Leading UK employers have teamed up to tackle the barriers that often prevent disabled candidates from getting jobs.
To date, 19 companies - including Reed, Remploy, Ernst & Young, Cisco, Pinsent Masons and Alexander Mann - have signed up to a protocol launched by the Employers' Forum on Disability (EFD), which will require recruitment agencies hired by these organisations to identify and remove the perceived obstacles.
The EFD says that barriers could include: agencies or employers insisting that candidates use online applications where there is no option to explain how a disability might have affected academic achievements; a lack of consideration as to whether or not it is physically possible for people to attend interviews; and failing to understand that someone who needs to lip-read might not always be able to make eye contact.
Susan Scott-Parker, chief executive at the EFD, said: "We have found over the years, time and time again, that the recruitment agencies our members are using are failing to deliver suitable candidates for the right vacancies at the right time, while often placing themselves and their clients open to legal and reputational risk.
"The recruitment protocol will require their agencies to demonstrate that they have the know-how and the will to remove the obstacles which prevent disabled people from competing equally."
The move has been welcomed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which pointed out the business benefits for employers of ensuring that they have access to as wide a range of talent as possible.
Dianah Worman, diversity adviser, said: "In today's tough times, employers need to sharpen up their approaches to recruiting and developing talent to make sure they can compete successfully in the global marketplace.
"The labour market is diverse, and understanding how to attract talent from the widest pool means exposing and removing the hidden barriers and inbuilt biases that stop this from happening. Being positive and proactive about disability is pivotal.
"Strong employment policies and practices are more important than ever before to keep ahead of competitors and attract the best people to sustain business performance. The EFD recruitment protocol on good practice relating to disability provides new insights and practical approaches to help employers do this successfully."
A recent survey undertaken by The Clear Company found that 70% of disabled candidates who had previously used a recruitment agency were unsure if they would do so again.