Essex County Council (ECC) has achieved the highest level an employer can receive as part of the DWP’s Disability Confident scheme, Level 3 Leader.
The Disability Confident scheme, run by the national government promotes a disability-inclusive culture among employers across the UK.
The scheme has three levels of accreditation and Level 3 employers are challenged thoroughly by a rigorous, independent validation of their self-assessment before being granted this status.
They also commit to becoming an advocate and peer mentor employer, promoting the benefits of employing adults with disabilities.
Becoming a Disability Confident Leader means the council will be working together to encourage and share the journey of continuous improvement with partners and businesses across the county.
The announcement coincides with the first of ECC’s networking events being held with businesses from across the county at Writtle College.
The event included a Q&A session with current ECC disabled employees, all of whom shared their employment experiences, good and bad, as well as the opportunity to talk to a number of organisations who can support employers to recruit and retain more adults with disabilities.
Speaking at the networking event, Gavin Jones, Chief Executive at Essex County Council said: “It is a great honour to become a Level 3 Disability Confident Leader, and we will be advocating the benefits of employing more adults with disabilities, as well as encouraging other employers across the county, and indeed the UK, to take action and change their recruitment practice.
“While we’re immensely proud of what we’ve achieved by becoming a recognised Disability Confident Leader, this is only the start of a much broader journey. Under the Disability Confident scheme we will carry on learning and strengthening the networks we will need to continue to improve our offer to existing and future disabled employees.”
Mike Adams, chief executive of Purple who carried out the validation, said: “What was really impressive about Essex County Council’s approach was the commitment from the top to build a Disability Confident organisation and to promote that philosophy with its supply chain and the Essex business community.
“It was good to see the range of activities already undertaken to promote Disability Confident to businesses and that they go beyond awareness-raising to support real understanding of building capacity of organisations, including through the active engagement of disabled people.”
Kate Crofts, chair of the Disabled Employees Network (DEN) at ECC, said; “It is great to see Essex County Council recognised in this way and I am pleased to have been part of the work that took place.
“There is still much to be done, and myself and others on the DEN will continue to work side by side with the management here. Our priorities will be to ensure that existing employees have increased opportunities to develop their careers and receive ongoing support, and the paths into employment at recruitment stage are clear and appropriate for future employees.”