Two-ticks scheme loses value and meaning with employers

Organisations working to get disabled people into work have questioned the value of the Department of Work and Pension’s (DWP’s) two-ticks positive about disability symbol.
Mon, 9 Jun 2014 | By Colin Cottell Organisations working to get disabled people into work have questioned the value of the Department of Work and Pension’s (DWP’s) two-ticks positive about disability symbol.  

The questions follow new research suggesting that the commitment of two-ticks employers to employing and retaining disabled people is no greater than non two-ticks employers, with the authors suggesting that displaying the symbol is a PR exercise.

The two-ticks symbol is awarded to employers by the DWP Jobcentre Plus as a way of showing disabled jobseekers that they are committed to treating them fairly in recruitment and employment. Employers displaying the symbol are supposed to be signing up to five specific commitments (see below).

However, the research led by professor Kim Hoque of Warwick Business School and Nick Bacon of Cass Business School, found that just 15% of organisations awarded the two-ticks symbol adhered to all five of its commitments, with 18% of those signed up not fulfilling any of them, and most – 38% – only keeping one of the promises.

The authors also found no difference between the public and private sectors.

Hoque tells Recruiter: “When it comes down to the individual disabled person looking for work, they want to have faith in the symbol and for it to be substantive and meaningful. Our research suggests that this is not the case.”

And the researchers go on to conclude that the symbol is nothing more than an “empty shell” used by companies as PR and “impression management” rather than a true commitment to equal rights for disability workers.

Denise Keating, chief executive at the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (enei), questions why employers that are not committed to employing and retaining disabled people are allowed to display the two-ticks symbol.

Keating tells Recruiter: “These results demonstrate a lack of auditing and monitoring being carried out by the DWP and we all know that if you don’t measure it, you don’t manage it!

“Our work with employers shows that many disabled people face problems getting into and staying in employment. When you consider that almost one in five working age adults in the UK has some form of long-term disability, the question is why are organisations who are clearly not committed to employing and retaining disabled people still able to display the Two Ticks.”

A spokesperson for the Shaw Trust, a not-for-profit organisation that helps disabled people find work, tells Recruiter: “We believe the two-ticks scheme has a really important part to play. This is both in ensuring people with disabilities are able to find work, but also in encouraging employers to ensure they are focused on giving everyone in our society an opportunity.

“Organisations like Shaw Trust would be more than happy to work with the government to continue to promote the scheme and also help to complement the current Disability Confident scheme being run by the DWP. Our work with employers shows that most do want to widen access for disabled people, but can often need extra guidance and information to do so.”

Philip Connolly, policy and communications manager at Disability Rights UK, tells Recruiter that he is not surprised by the results of the research. “The two-ticks symbol has fallen into some disrepute,” he says, adding that the DWP has recognized this.

In January 2013, the minister for disabled people, Esther McVey, announced a national review of the two-ticks scheme to establish whether it was fit for purpose. DWP had not responded to questions on the outcome of the review as went to press.

Two-ticks scheme
Launched in 1990, the two ticks symbol has been awarded to 8,387 organisations and is used by 46% of the top 200 FTSE companies.

Companies awarded the two ticks sign up to five commitments:
1.    To interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and to consider them on their abilities.
2.    To discuss with disabled employees, at least once a year, what both parties can do to make sure they can develop and use their abilities.
3.    When employees become disabled to make every effort to ensure they stay in employment.
4.    Ensure all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness.
5.    To review these commitments each year and let employees and Jobcentre Plus know about progress and future plans.

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