Diversity & Disability – HR’s Responsibility

The area of diversity is rightly raising its profile on the agenda of employers as they look to make their workforce more aligned to their clients’ populations.

They are also realising that by always bringing in new employees in the image of their existing headcount, they are missing out on a network of high potential candidates. However how should we as recruiters support this – should there be quota’s on short-lists? Should we promote candidates from a particular gender/ ethnicity or with a disability?

PSD has known David D’Souza for a number of years and we knew that David would give us an honest overview, not just as an HR Consultant but as a realist. David has been on a similar journey looking at the diversity agenda and how it has impacted his thoughts. He comments:

“I could not even hazard a guess as to how many candidates I have directly interviewed for jobs. If you were to include candidates for roles in my broader team/department (where I may have sat in on the later stages of the process or for ‘coffee sign off’), it must run into hundreds.  To the best of my recollection, however, I have never interviewed a disabled candidate for a position. If I have done, their disabilities must have been invisible and/or undisclosed.

It was during an online conversation on Twitter regarding my scant knowledge about disabled HR professionals that I realised this and my reactions went as follows:

  • I cannot believe I have not noticed this before, THEN
  • I cannot believe there are not more disabled HR professionals out there, THEN
  • I am angry that agencies have not done more to direct their CV’s to me, THEN
  • I am directly accountable for never asking the agencies I work with why they have never sent me a visibly disabled candidate.

It was a humbling and embarrassing moment. If you had asked me to talk about anything to do with disability, equality, inclusion and diversity, I would have given you a typical preachy HR response about how much I value it and how concerned I am that many companies appear to ignore it. This would be entirely hypocritical, because my positive action as an individual who made hiring decisions was non-existent.  I am convinced that I would have acted differently had anyone (agency or otherwise) challenged my thinking or poor track record.”

David went on to sum this up in the wider context of the competition for talent:

“I think the options are stark for both employers and agencies. Do nothing, blame each other, or start working together to improve;

  • The ability of companies to attract the best talent
  • The ability of agencies to provide the best talent
  • The pathways for talent to access opportunities without being restricted by a lack of appreciation of diversity

We all need to ensure we are not ignoring, through convenience and ignorance, those candidates with the skills and abilities to deliver that are most often overlooked”

So how do we make these changes in our mindset and, as a recruiter, support our clients’ diversity agenda?

Make sure we speak to our clients and make sure we are leading the diversity conversation.


David D’Souza

Membership Director, CIPD

David’s background was as an OD professional focused on improving organisational and team performance, with practical, grounded experience across most HR disciplines.

He is a regular keynote conference/event speaker on people and the world of work, focusing on the links between behavioural science and HR/L&D. He has featured in People Management, Management Today, HR Magazine, Training Journal, HRZone, The HRDirector, HR Grapevine, The Future WorkHub and Workplace Insight.

David D’Souza currently chairs the CIPD Senior Leaders Network andis a member of our Leaders in Learning Group. He is  an active blogger and has been described by Workplace Insight as  “One of the UK’s most influential HR and workplace commentators”​.