We live so much of our lives online today that anyone who can’t easily access this world is immediately at a disadvantage. It’s easy for those who do have access to assume that everyone else benefits from this too but there remain groups for whom this isn’t the case, including those with a temporary, life-long or age-related disability, learning disabilities, cognitive problems, vision issues or language barriers. A lack of online access has a big impact on real life, whether that relates to paying bills or getting a job. Acknowledging this issue is an important start for organizations looking to recruit in a truly diverse and inclusive way.
Recent changes in recruitment. Diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords — they have the potential to transform workplaces, improve productivity and create a new candidate experience. Web accessibility is fundamental to the goal of a more diverse and inclusive workforce. It’s even more important today as recruitment has shifted considerably into the digital space and this is now where most organizations do their hiring, from discovering candidates to onboarding and interviews. A digital hiring journey has become a must during the pandemic and this has exacerbated the disability gap in recruitment.
The disability gap in recruitment. Only a third of jobseekers think that recruiters and employers currently provide accessible job applications. This could be why disabled jobseekers apply for 60% more jobs and almost 40% of disabled applicants feel anxious about the process because they think that their application will be instantly dismissed due to their disability. Inaccessible websites are making the disability gap worse in recruitment — 71% of users will leave a site they find hard to use and yet 98% of home pages still don’t comply with the World Content Accessibility Guidelines.
The benefits of a diverse talent pool. A diverse talent pool provides a richer and more innovative workforce for any business. Neurodiverse workers, for example, are often creative and strategic thinkers and a more diverse team broadens out perspectives to create room for more innovation and ideas generation. Being firm about equal opportunities creates a positive culture in the workplace, can boost morale and show customers how committed the business is. Plus, a more diverse workforce is able to accommodate a more diverse customer base and there is increasing evidence of links between better inclusion and greater profitability.
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Supporting people online. Many organizations avoid web accessibility and inclusion issues, fearing that this will be costly and expensive to implement. However, it’s important to note that the actual time and cost involved in implementing accessibility changes is fairly low. Implementing change means rethinking the internal view of candidates and employees with disabilities and looking at the ways an existing recruitment process may be creating obstacles. There are three key ways in which companies can support people online:
- Compliance. Ensuring that an online presence complies with the World Content Accessibility Guidelines.
- More inclusive web design. Factors to consider here include a content management system that is designed to support accessibility, using alt text for all images, using headings to structure content, ensuring online forms are accessible, giving descriptive names to all links.
- Assistive technology. For example, Recite Me has created a toolbar that enables users to customize and change colors and font sizes, apply a screen mask to color tint and block visual clutter and access text to speech functions in 35 languages — among many other things.
What this all boils down to:
- Web accessibility needs to be a priority for organizations focused on a genuinely inclusive and diverse workforce.
- Accessible web design currently doesn’t feature for many organizations — 98% of home pages don’t comply with the World Content Accessibility Guidelines.
- There is a significant disability gap in recruitment right now with only just over half of applications from disabled people making it to the interview stage and disabled jobseekers have to apply for 60% more jobs.
- There are many advantages to a diverse talent pool, from access to more creative and strategic thinking to improved financial results.
- Businesses need to improve basic web design and also employ assistive technology, such as the Recite Me toolbar to ensure true web accessibility.