A new recruitment protocol has been launched aimed at getting recruitment agencies to help people with disabilities – physical and learning – to compete on an equal footing when applying for jobs.

The Employers’ Forum on Disability (EFD), along with 16 employers, including Cisco and Ernst & Young, have signed up to the Recruitment Protocol, which requires all recruitment agencies they work with to identify and remove common barriers preventing disabled candidates from succeeding. Developed in consultation with the recruitment industry and employers, the Recruitment Protocol has been devised to make it easier for both parties to define and implement the good practice in recruiting people with disabilities.

EFD’s CEO Susan Scott-Parker said: “We have found over the years, time and time again, that the recruitment agencies our members are using are failing to deliver suitable candidates for the right vacancies at the right time, while often placing themselves and their clients open to legal and reputational risk. “So our members have decided to take very practical action; the Recruitment Protocol will require their recruitment agencies to demonstrate that they have the know-how and the will to remove the obstacles which prevent disabled people from competing equally.”

A recent survey undertaken by inclusive recruitment firm The Clear Company found that 70% of disabled candidates who had previously used a recruitment agency responded ‘no or not sure’ when asked if they would use a recruitment agency again.

Dianah Worman, diversity adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said: “In today’s tough times employers need to sharpen up their approaches to recruiting and developing talent to make sure they can compete successfully in the global marketplace. The labour market is diverse and understanding how to attract talent from the widest pool means exposing and removing the hidden barriers and inbuilt biases that stop this from happening. Being positive and proactive about disability is pivotal. Strong employment policies and practices are more important than ever before to keep ahead of competitors and attract the best people to sustain business performance. “The EFD Recruitment Protocol on good practice relating to disability provides new insights and practical approaches to help employers do this successfully.”