Friends of attract: Graeme Gemmell
Graeme Gemmel is the national manager at Recite.me, who make websites accessible to everyone. A key focus area is recruitment due to the lack of accessibility in career websites and job ads.
Why embrace web accessibility
attract: Why is it so important that recruiters embrace web accessibility?
There are people with disabilities that are highly skilled and are looking for their dream jobs. They have to apply for 60% more roles just to get in front of a hiring manager. The other side of this is recruiters want to attract more talent, they want more candidates. The two are separated by the barriers that exist for people living with disabilities. What we’re doing is removing those digital barriers. Accessible and inclusive websites allow recruiters to open their doors to this vast array of talent that’s never been included or welcomed before.
In 1992 legislation was passed that specifically legislates the fact that you can’t give people with a disability a less favourable experience online. 98% of Australian websites are not currently compliant. They don’t meet WCAG guidelines that allow assistive technology, like Recite.me to work as well as it can.
So really, there are three main reasons to address digital accessibility.
It’s the right thing to do; you should build inclusive hiring practices. Why would you exclude people living with disabilities or language needs in 2023?
It’s the smart thing to do; there are commercial outcomes, you attract more candidates and your organisation will be better off with a more diverse workforce.
It’s something you have to do. This is your compliance obligation to the WCAG guidelines and the Australian legislation on the subject.
Building inclusive hiring
attract: What is the first step in building an inclusive hiring process?
Most of the recruitment processes that exist in Australia right now are built for efficiency and speed. That’s all good, but really to be more inclusive and accessible, you need to start thinking about it from a candidate-centric perspective in order to see what barriers might exist and open up doors to people living with disabilities. These people are potentially highly skilled and 88% don’t need any adaptations at work. Often they are considered to be a lesser candidate than an able bodied-individual because of the unconscious bias and barriers to access the role that exist.
Working with disabled people
attract: Recite.me has a highly inclusive culture, but most companies have never hired someone with a disability. Can you share what it is like working in such an inclusive team?
By way of example, our marketing manager is dyslexic, on his LinkedIn profile he lists dyslexic thinking as one of his skills not as a disability. People who are dyslexic have brains that work in a different way, often this is more creative than your traditional applicant. It can be a really powerful thing. It means they can manage many, many projects at the same time, they can think faster, and work in more creative ways.
Sometimes in our marketing collateral we find the odd typo. The question from my perspective is, does that matter? Are you still able to understand the information? Did you get the idea? People are too tied up in the details to see why inclusion is more important and delivers a more diverse working environment more representative of the society we live in. We always try to hire from our demographic, we want to work with the people that our products are designed to support.
More than disbaility
attract: Accessibility is more than just giving access to people who are disabled, who else can take advantage of accessible websites?
By way of an example, there’s been an increase in Ukrainian immigration recently. Essential government services, job boards, accessing the Health services, transport etc.is all online. Imagine if you’re in a new country and you know nothing and nobody. You don’t speak the language, you’ve got nothing, and the first thing you need to do is find a job. With an accessible website, you can make that candidate feel welcomed and included from the very first point of contact. It speaks about your brand image. What do people think of your brand?
One of my favourite phrases is “it’s not a question of if you’re going to be affected by a disability, it’s when.” There are hidden disabilities, there are temporary disabilities — a broken arm, just getting old. Everybody is going to be impacted by disability one way or another.
attract: Recruiters often rely on software vendors and have limited control over accessibility, do you think these vendors need to do more towards building accessible websites?
Job boards and software companies are driven by financial metrics. One of our biggest clients went to their ATS and said “hey we want to add some accessibility and inclusion to our instance” and they said “of course, no worries it will take us about 30 minutes.”
But then I can also point you to many conversations with that same ATS from a 5 person organisation, or a charity. They tell the ATS that they want to make their instance more inclusive and they just get completely ignored.
It’s a question of how much money does this client represent to them before they’re willing to make a small change. That’s the bottom line sadly, and it’s that attitude that needs to change.
attract: Are there any vendors who you think are doing accessibility well?
I’m not asking recruiters to go out and scrap their ATS tomorrow.
But, the next time you have the opportunity to review your contract, let’s ask the questions. Are we engaging with website developers and third party platform providers who genuinely understand what the W.C.A.G. are all about? Do they know the difference between accessibility and inclusion? If not, consider a vendor who is or will at least do the work and enable the platform to be inclusive.
You can follow Graeme on LinkedIn to learn more about the importance of accessible websites for recruitment, and check out Recite.me‘s case studies on making careers websites accessible to learn more.