Pluss were delighted to be joined by Wiltshire Police at the Into Work Convention 2017 held this week at the Kia Oval in London.
With a stunning background of cricket and sunshine, delegates heard from John Flynn (Head of Contact Management), Roy Perrott (Head of Service Improvement), and Pluss customers, Anthony Bristowe and Robert Stevens (and Nimo the dog). Here is just a little of what they had to say.
"So back in 2011 how did people gain employment within Wiltshire Police? Well obviously, you filled out your application form, came along for an assessment and then we gave you an interview. Why else wouldn’t we do it that way?
"Because we had never considered if this was a suitable process for someone with a disability.
"This all started due to a volunteer we have in our control room. His name is Robert and he has a severe visual impairment. He would come along a few days a week and was helping us keep one of our phone directories up to date. In doing so he would ring companies that we often worked with to make sure we have all the right contact information. It was during this time that we realised Robert was really good at talking to people and was very articulate. I thought, why not give Robert an opportunity to work on our 101 switchboard? My boss at the time fully bought into this and gave me a simple instruction… “Make it Happen!”.
"So off I go to our recruitment department with an idea in my head. I said to them “I’ve got this chap who works in my department who is really good at talking to people on the phone. Due to his disability I’m not sure if our usual recruitment process will be best for him so I’d like to give him a fixed term contract and during that time we will train him as we would any other new recruit and it will run as a working interview”. How simple...
"However, the blank and puzzled look on the face of the lady in recruitment suggested she didn’t seem to buy into this theory and was then backed up with her response which went something along the lines of “He needs to fill out an application form and go for an interview”. Clearly we were at different ends of the spectrum and at that point it dawned on me that whilst Wiltshire Police said they were a Disability Confident and diverse employer - it was only the case if YOU fitted into THEIR processes.
"Did Robert get his working interview? Too right he did - and that’s because I
- Pushed the organisations boundaries
- Didn’t fall at the first hurdle and give up
- And kept on telling our Senior HR Leaders that one size doesn’t always fit.
"I think the phrase “lawful harassment” was what I was accused off, but how positive that is now because I can assure you that Wiltshire Police are now in a very different space when it comes to helping people with disabilities gain employment!"