Simon Blockley speaking at RIDI Conference

RIDI Conference 2017

I had the honour of speaking at the first RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) conference in London. I was there to talk about Guidant’s own journey to Disability Confidence and how we’re using our influence to drive change in the wider recruitment sector around disability. 

The sell-out event was hugely motivating and I for one left even more committed to driving change for disabled candidates and reducing the disability employment gap. 

Although there were many fantastic speakers, including Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister of State for Disabled People. It was the first hand experience of Paralympic gold medallist, Sophie Christiansen that had the biggest impact on me and many others in the room. 

Sophie Christiansen, CBE is an English equestrian who has competed in three successive Paralympic Games, winning numerous medals. In 2012 and 2016 she gained three gold medals at the Paralympics. She has master's degree in mathematics at Royal Holloway, University of London. Sophie also has cerebral palsy and for this reason she struggled to secure employment following graduation. Take a look at this short video for an insight into Sophie’s achievements. 

It really hit home to me that if someone as talented, successful and determined as Sophie can’t gain employment due to her disability, how on earth do other disabled candidates even stand a chance? It’s not surprising that so many talented disabled people have simply given up hope of finding a role that works for them. 

Thankfully Sophie has overcome the barriers she faced. Following an inclusive interview process, which she highlighted was, “more about looking at what role they could place me in – fitting the role around the person rather than fitting the person into the role”, she is now an Analyst in the Technology Division at Goldman Sachs. Sophie’s inspiring address ended with her noting that, “The Paralympics inspired a nation”, and urging attendees to “let your next recruit inspire a company”.   

However, when the audience was polled on whether Sophie would be likely to get through their own company’s existing application processes, a third (33%) thought it was still unlikely. As recruiters and employers, we have a responsibility to take a stand and say this is not ok! 
At Guidant Global we are privileged to work with great clients, but also a wide range of recruitment suppliers and job-seekers across multiple disciplines and sectors. We know that we can make a difference. 

We have already taken a proactive approach to promoting disability confidence both within our own organisation and within the wider recruitment sector. We feel it is our responsibility to act as ambassadors and further educate our employees, partners and clients in order to build a greater understanding of disability and ultimately, create a more confident and inclusive environment. In doing so, we’re providing a voice and opening doors for disabled jobseekers. We continue to strive to unite our clients and suppliers and are pleased to bring everyone together at the event, showing our commitment to moving forward. Find out more about how we supported our strategic partner, Wells Tobias in their own Disability Confident journeys by watching the video below:


However, I am acutely aware that this still isn’t enough. One of the key things Sophie mentioned in her address was that employers and recruiters need to fit their opportunities around the disabled person, rather than expecting disabled candidates to be able to work in existing roles. This is something we’re going to consider very seriously at Guidant Global and several of our clients have also expressed a desire to work with disabled talent in a more flexible and inclusive way. 

It’s inspiring to see attendees leaving feeling empowered to think and do things differently. This is a positive sign that the recruitment industry is heading in the right direction when it comes to driving change and becoming disability confident. Coming together at the conference enables us to share our experiences, learn from each other and tackle the issue head-on.  Together, we can all make a change – and sometimes it’s only by listening to the first-hand experiences of disabled people like Sophie that we really understand what we can do for disabled people, and what they can do for us. 

To find out more about RIDI, including how you can get involved and enter the 2018 awards please visit: 

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