Rachel Kerrigan is the Community Resource Manager at Perkins School For The Blind. She manages the Perkins-Business Partnership, an alliance with Massachusetts’ employers committed to breaking down barriers to employment and expanding opportunities for individuals who are blind and visually impaired.
Free “Inclusive Talent Acquisition” Online Course Launches
On October 11, Perkins School for the Blind will launch an online course in partnership with Harvard Extension School titled “Introduction to Inclusive Talent Acquisition.” This news has taken many by surprise—indeed, why is a school for people who are blind setting out to instruct an audience of hiring managers and recruiters? But the connection is strong, because helping students make the transition to adulthood and living independently is a key priority for Perkins. For many students, leaving Perkins is like jumping off a cliff. One day they are in a welcoming, supportive environment with extensive resources—and the next they are essentially on their own. And it’s particularly difficult when inadvertent barriers have been set up between HR professionals and these qualified candidates eager to connect with them.
When I started at Perkins I had the opportunity to learn about the barriers to employment through a series of interviews with people who are blind and HR professionals. The interviews revealed a few patterns, and one key issue is that recruiters and hiring managers are gatekeepers at different stages of the employment process. Recruiters control the pipeline of candidates coming into an organization, and hiring managers make the final decision about who works at the organization.
A recruiter may present a diverse slate of candidates, but their efforts will prove ineffective if the hiring manager doesn’t make diversity a priority too. Or in the reverse scenario, a hiring manager may never get the chance to interview a candidate with a disability if the human resources department doesn’t consider diversity in recruiting. In order to build diverse teams, both parties need to identify disability as a key part of their diversity and inclusion efforts, and to work collaboratively.
Throughout the process we also learned that while HR representatives generally value diversity and are aware of the laws put in place to prevent discrimination, there is widespread confusion and ignorance about how to implement inclusive hiring practices. With Harvard Extension School’s expertise and support, we set out to create an engaging and actionable online course that equips hiring managers and recruiters with the tools to attract, interview, and onboard candidates with disabilities. This includes PEAT’s own TalentWorks tool, which provides key resources to help hiring managers and recruiters ensure that the technologies that they are using are as accessible as possible to jobseekers with disabilities.
“Introduction to Inclusive Talent Acquisition” will be available on edX free and open to all starting October 11, 2016, and takes only 2-3 hours to complete. The course is broken up into four quick sessions, each focused on a different stage of the hiring process. During the sessions, participants will watch videos featuring people with disabilities talking about their employment experiences, complete engaging scenario activities, and share best practices with other professionals in discussion boards. At the end of each session, participants will reflect on how they can apply the lessons at their workplace.
Employers are often unaware of how many top candidates they may inadvertently be turning away by not considering the needs of people with disabilities. We hope this course will help provide anyone involved in recruiting, interviewing, and hiring with the knowledge and tools they need to create a culture of inclusion that attracts new customers, clients, and candidates.
To enroll or learn more, please check out the video below or visit Perkins.org/edX.