Should you disclose your disability at application stage when applying for a job?
by Susan Allott, Lead Consultant Disability and Inclusion, Remploy
Despite the increasing number of employers signing up to the Disability Confident scheme, and the growing awareness that a diverse team will benefit your business, some people with disabilities and health conditions are still wary of disclosing their disability at application stage. Even where the employer guarantees an interview to applicants with disabilities, provided they meet the minimum requirement for the job, disabled applicants are not always certain that disclosure is the best policy.
Remploy’s team of internal disability Ambassadors were asked to give their views on this issue, and they came back with some varied responses, reflecting how personal a decision disclosure is.
Laura, who is registered blind, described a period of unemployment, prior to the Disability Confident scheme being introduced, in which she became convinced that disclosing her disability at application stage was preventing her from getting an interview.
Laura says, ‘I believe that employers were turning me away because I disclosed my disability. So, I stopped disclosing my disability on forms and explained myself when the time came. I still think this goes on today; our disability stands out more than our skills and qualifications.’
Cornel, who is an amputee, expresses similar doubts. He says, ‘I do disclose of course when an employer mentions a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled people, however I often wonder whether this is a way for employers to sift out those with disabilities, rather than to help them.’
Colin, who has a neurological condition affecting his mobility, says he understands why some people might choose not to disclose: ‘We all know discrimination takes place and the disabled unemployment rate bears testament to that.’ He goes on to say that he might not disclose his disability if he were able to conceal it. ‘My own disability is obvious and therefore I feel I should disclose it. I take the view if the reason they would not employ me was my disability then I would not want to work there.’
Bobby’s disability is also physical. He is a strong believer in disclosing at application stage. He says, ‘I have always disclosed my disability and I am proud too as it is always best to tell the truth and be upfront with employers.’ Furthermore, he advises his Remploy candidates to do the same, saying that it could lead to a greater chance of interview.
Tony makes the point that due to his learning disability, he would not get the adjustments he needs at interview stage if he did not disclose. ‘I would have to disclose my disability,’ he says, ‘as I would need support if I got through to the interview, even if this meant lowering my chances of getting the job.’
Anna feels differently. Of all the Ambassadors, she is the only one in a position to conceal her disability. She has been promoted internally at Remploy by Managers who knew that she suffered with anxiety. Externally, she’s not so sure. ‘I would only disclose if I had the impression that it would not hold back my application,’ she says.
Overall, most Ambassadors felt that in principle, disclosure is the right thing to do, even if it might put some employers off. Eva, who is registered blind, was interviewed for 26 jobs before she took up her post with Remploy. She says, ‘in each interview I learned of new reasons that a blind or disabled person would potentially find the job difficult.’ But Eva thinks those 26 interviews may have had some value. She says, ‘I strongly believe that not disclosing and not having those challenging conversations with employers only continues to hide disability, which does us no good whatsoever.