After achieving the Inclusive Workplace Award (IWA), Falkirk Council and their Employability and Training Unit (ETU) have been hard at work continuing to develop their inclusive practices with the aim of reducing the Disability Employment Gap. We are excited to share with you this Q&A blog post, in which Falkirk Council explain why they chose to apply for the Inclusive Workplace Award, the application process, and what they did next!
Why did Falkirk Council put in a submission to the Inclusive Workplace Award?
The honest answer is that it was in direct recognition of the inclusive approach Falkirk Council has as an employer, as well as the more in-depth work of Employment and Training Unit which aims to actively challenge the Disability Employment Gap.
How easy was it to complete? What was the process like?
It was really straightforward as all of the policies and procedures were already in place around recruitment, equality and inclusive practise in the workplace. Falkirk Council has a comprehensive toolkit of resources aimed at creating a level playing field for any job applicant or current employee. Whether in relation to health and wellbeing, advice and support around disability issues, accessing occupational health support, mental health support or having adjustments made to a workstation or working hours, all of these are seen as integral to supporting a diverse workforce.
In addition, Employment and Training Unit has robust working practices in place aimed at supporting those furthest from the labour market, so helping to create a level playing field for all job seekers in the local area.
Who was involved in pulling together?
The submission had direct input from senior members of the HR team, as well as Falkirk Council’s policy and community planning team leader. It was co-ordinated by Fiona McFarlane, Principal Officer at the Employment and Training Unit, with sign off from the unit’s Service Manager, Sarah McCulley. Everyone working on the submission was in agreement around the policies and, more importantly, working practices that are embedded within the council and ETU.
Where is Falkirk Council and the ETU at today?
Since receiving the IWA, we are even more aware of the needs of individuals, as well as the enormous amount of work still to be done to halve the Disability Employment Gap. Falkirk Council and the ETU continues to build and improve its working practices to reflect this.
Here are some examples from recent months:
- ETU staff have completed Inclusive Communications training via SUSE.
- New ETU staff members are currently working on their PDA in Supported Employment.
- A new cohort of the ETU staff team will complete their their NIDMAR qualification in May 2022.
- Falkirk Council HR recruitment is looking at the accessibility of its recruitment and selection process (although this is managed through MyJobsScotland, so not entirely ours to change, but we can work to influence change).
- Falkirk Council web team is working on the accessibility of all of its web pages and associated documents – ETU is currently working to refresh every item to ensure accessibility.
- Working with its partners at Forth Valley College, ETU ensured an accessible application process for this year’s DFN Project SEARCH applicants.
- ETU Service Manager, Sarah McCulley sits on the Scottish Access to Work Board.
- ETU continues to use Talking Mats as part of its regular communications practice.
- We have good and ongoing links with local DEAs.
- ETU is an active member in the Children & Young People’s Strategic Leadership Group (formerly Children’s Commission).
- ETU is an active member of ASN Transition Steering Group, working across all schools in the Falkirk Council area – currently working on a shared assessment document that has inclusive communication at the heart of it.
- Most recently, ETU commissioned and supported the co-design and co-production of a mapping resource – the group consisted of disabled parents and parents of disabled children and is in its final stages of pulling together a directory of accessible resources and Disabled support provision across the Falkirk Council area that will be of wider benefit to so many other, similar parents, carers and local residents. Design input is being provided by ETU marketing graduate and the resource will be made available in both and online and printed versions.
Has anything changed?
The short answer is yes, ETU is seeing positive results for many of the participants it works with. Employers are more open to discussion around making reasonable adjustments in the workplace, the range of working hours and patterns on offer, as well as accepting in-work support from ETU Employment Support Workers. In-work support can be anything from completing Access to Work applications and adjustments through to on-going buddying and systematic instruction to help create that level playing field.
As an employer, Falkirk Council continues to look at where improvements can be made, from ensuring all new staff members complete equality and diversity training at induction to those changes being made in schools, on web pages and across its offices to improve the accessibility of information for all.
Would Falkirk Council and the Employability and Training Unit submit to another award in the future?
Again, this is another yes. Completing the initial IWA submission was not a static piece of work; it was a reflection of existing working practice both across council as an employer and from the Employment and Training Unit in its delivery of services to local residents.
If you would like to learn more about the successes of Falkirk Council’s Employability and Training Unit, please click here to visit their website.
If you have any questions for Falkirk Council’s Employability and Training Unit, please email them at email@example.com or telephone 01324 504408