Our vision here at Texthelp is of a world where difference, disability or language are no longer barriers. Couple that with our mission of wanting to help unlock everyone’s full potential through innovative technology, and it only makes sense that we get involved in the Department of Work and Pensions’ Disability Confident scheme. Whilst we’ve been committed to the scheme for some time, we’re now a proud Disability Confident Employer with our sights set on becoming a Disability Confident Leader in the near future. So, here’s a little sneak peek into our journey…
In this blog, we speak to Texthelp’s Disability Confident Champion, Edyta Twardowska, about why we joined the scheme and what we’ve done so far…
Why did Texthelp decide to get involved in the Disability Confident scheme?
It’s extremely important that an organisation like Texthelp takes part in a scheme like this. Disabilities - whether mental or physical - are very common, so it’s important that we put our hands up and say, “We welcome every potential employee here. Don’t let having a disability put you off from applying to work at Texthelp.” Since we help millions of people with disabilities through our software every day, it’s definitely part of our DNA to be involved in a scheme like this and to help others in our community recognise its importance.
What have been the most impactful changes or initiatives you've implemented as part of your Disability Confident journey?
Some time ago, I introduced the idea of working with a local mental health organisation, Action Mental Health (AMH) New Horizons, here in Antrim. The project is motivated by a common goal of making a positive difference in the lives of others and involves a 12-month (and hopefully beyond) job shadowing programme to help AMH New Horizons clients take that first step back to employment.
We invite one client per month to join the Texthelp team in the Antrim office to shadow one of our admin roles for a day. We’re proud to actively promote a happy and healthy working environment with various workplace initiatives, so it’s the ideal space for individuals to experience the world of work again.
Through this joint initiative, we hope that the people who come to job shadow here gain some new skills, improve their career opportunities and leave with increased confidence and self-esteem.
Our support of the local organisation doesn’t stop there. We’re working with the team at New Horizons to add our literacy software, Read&Write, to the computers in their offices for both staff and clients to make use of. Plus, we’ve added our digital accessibility tool, Browsealoud, to their website, ensuring all of their visitors can access the online content and information provided there.
Another change that’s been actively implemented at Texthelp is that we now recruit as a disability-friendly organisation, welcoming applications from every member of the community. We’ve also taken steps to ensure we can accommodate for anyone with a physical or mental disability who comes into the office for an in-person interview.
How will operating as a Disability Confident Employer help Texthelp as a business?
Being a Disability Confident Employer is definitely opening up opportunities for us to recruit from a wider talent pool. In the past, we’ve found that potential employees may have been put off from applying to work here because they thought they might not make it through the recruitment process. But, we hope that by working with the Department of Work and Pensions on this scheme, we’re much more aware and inclusive of job applicants with disabilities.
In addition to these benefits, we also have corporate social responsibilities, like the work we are doing with AMH New Horizons. We hope that this work helps encourage other local organisations to realise their potential to make a difference in the community as well.
What does being a Disability Confident Employer mean for the Texthelp team?
Being Disability Confident helps us to support our existing employees with their needs. Someone who may have been reluctant to previously disclose a disability, now hopefully feels they can reach out for the extra support that they need without being singled out or discriminated against.
Our involvement in the scheme has also opened up new channels of communication, especially around the topic of disabilities and mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety. What we’re trying to do here is to say, “It’s good to talk, and we want to be able to support you no matter what’s going on.”
What next steps have you got planned?
Since we were awarded our Disability Confident Employer status, I’ve had my eyes on the next level: Disability Confident Leader. With all the work that we’re doing, I’m confident that we’ll get there soon.
On a personal level, I’m looking to continue with the AMH New Horizons project, and I’ve been thinking about the possibilities of expanding the job shadow program into other departments here at Texthelp. Some of the clients who’ve taken part already have shown a keen interest in other areas of the business, like our software development team, technical support and marketing.
If you would like to explore more, find out how you could become a Disability Confident Organisation, or hear from other Disability Confident organisations as part of our Disability Inclusion series.