Disabled people returning to work in the pandemic – a case study
In the penultimate blog of this series, we will outline what Kingsley Napley is doing to support people with disabilities in the workplace. We will highlight the importance of continuing to recruit a diverse workforce and the promotion of our inclusive culture. It is especially relevant for us to discuss how we have supported all of our employees, whilst working from home during the current coronavirus pandemic. Although home-working may offer some advantages for people with disabilities, it has been important for us to ensure we recognise and work to mitigate any potential disadvantages of home-working too. We will continue to work alongside the Kingsley Napley (Diff)Ability group to continuously enhance our support for people with disabilities.
One of the first changes implemented at Kingsley Napley since remote-working was to ensure that we offered the delivery of new ergonomic working equipment for all, with the primary purpose of supporting physical well-being whilst working from home. This included working with the IT and Facilities teams to give employees the ability to order desks, ergonomic chairs, additional keyboards and mice, laptop stands and additional screens. We believe that setting this high standard of ergonomic support whilst working from home has allowed everyone the opportunity to work comfortably and has encouraged people with physical disabilities at Kingsley Napley to reach out to the HR team to discuss any specialist equipment that may be required to work comfortably from home.
The IDPWD’s theme this year being ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’ is especially relevant whilst home-working as it can be increasingly difficult to spot when someone may be struggling mentally at work.
We recognise that the current coronavirus crisis will have taken its toll on everyone’s wellbeing and particularly on those who struggle with mental ill-health. In quick response to the emerging pandemic earlier this year, we ran ‘Effective Remote Working’ and ‘Personal Resilience’ training in April 2020. These sessions ensured that our people were equipped with the tools to cope with the sudden, mentally and physically challenging ‘new normal.’ Furthermore, at Kingsley Napley we have a wide variety of mental health information and support available, which we communicate about regularly. Our Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) act as an initial point of contact for anyone experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. Our MHFAs are then able to signpost to resources we have available. Our Employee Assistance Programme is provided by LifeWorks, who also offer Health Assessments, CareNow Programmes, and wide range of practical mental health resources.
Kingsley Napley also provides support in the form of training and practical guidance in looking after physical and mental health. During our programme of training in April 2020 in response to the pandemic, we also held ‘Wellbeing and Resilience for Managers and Leaders’ and ‘Leading Remote Teams’ sessions for our line managers and leaders across the firm. The content included a focus on enhanced communication with teams, and the importance of this for the quick identification of those who may need additional support whilst working from home, and how this support can be delivered. Kingsley Napley also recently held a workshop, ‘Looking after Your Musculoskeletal Health When Working from Home,’ which received great feedback from those who attended. Additionally, we provide access to a micro e-learning platform called Thrive. Thrive allows access to courses that are 10 minutes or under on a wide range of topics, including quick practical guidance for managing mental health. As well as assisting our current employees, we hope that our wide ranging health and wellbeing benefit also enhances our employer brand to attract those with disabilities to apply for roles at Kingsley Napley.
Kinglsey Napley is committed to making sure we have a diverse workforce, inclusive of those with disabilities. This is why we are now ensuring we have clarity on our recruitment data, which will allow us to analyse our success in attracting a diverse workforce, inclusive of those with disabilities. This analysis allows us to see where we are able to make changes to ensure we are continuing to improve our diversity pipeline.
We recently partnered with a recruitment platform, Rare Recruitment, to facilitate inclusivity within our future Trainee Solicitor recruitment process. Rare’s approach highlights where candidates may have faced adversity, by using a range of measures (such as whether an individual received free school meals, or is the first in their family to attend university), to take into account a candidate’s personal circumstances when making selection decisions. Although Rare focuses specifically on social mobility, we recognise the complex framework of intersectionality and the how the impact of having a disability can work alongside other factors to further hinder an individual’s access to and success within the workplace. We believe that working with Rare will enhance our ability to provide equal opportunities to those from disadvantaged backgrounds in our future Trainee selection process.
We are also committed to ensuring our line managers are equipped with the tools and knowledge to facilitate an inclusive workplace. We recently ran a ‘Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment’ training programme, and will soon also be running a ‘Diversity and Inclusion: Inclusion as a Strategic Driver’ course for our most senior leaders at the firm. We hope this training will enhance our leaders’ abilities in fostering an inclusive environment.
In 2021, Kingsley Napley is excited to be moving to our new office in Shoreditch. Luckily, as this is a new build, we were able to have a hand in the design of the building itself. This has allowed us to ensure it is tailored to our needs, and made accessible for people with disabilities. We instructed a specialist to consult on the space from a disability perspective, which has allowed us to be forward thinking in meeting the needs of our people and clients. The consultation involved a full assessment of our space, ensuring the accessibility for wheelchair users throughout the building, considering the height of different facilities, and making sure we have accessible signposting.
We are lucky at Kingsley Napley to have such active responsible business networks that work together to create a more inclusive workplace. In supporting IDPWD, it is important that we recognise the difficulties faced particularly during the current coronavirus pandemic for people with disabilities, and continue to offer resources and support. Kingsley Napley supports the IDPWD and will work to continually enhance our culture of inclusivity and acceptance, promoting ourselves as an inclusive employer, and a supporter of those with disabilities in the workplace.
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