Diversity in the Drafting Room: Hiring Disabled Employees for a More Successful Business

Redefining Disability in Architecture: Insights from Jane Hatton

As the architecture industry evolves, inclusivity and diversity become increasingly pivotal. In our latest podcast episode, we were joined by Jane Hatton, founder of a social enterprise dedicated to championing disability in the workplace. Jane, a disabled woman herself, brought a refreshing perspective to disability in the professional world, particularly in architecture.

Understanding Disability Beyond Stereotypes

Jane emphasized the importance of redefining disability. It’s not just about physical impairments visible to the eye; it encompasses a broad spectrum, including conditions like autism, which can be an asset in professions requiring attention to detail and creativity. The key takeaway is that disability should be seen as a spectrum of diverse abilities and talents, not limitations.

Tackling Misconceptions in the Architectural Profession

The architectural profession, traditionally perceived as hands-on and physical, often overlooks the potential contributions of disabled individuals. Jane highlighted that most disabilities aren’t immediately apparent and that disabled individuals are often overlooked due to misconceptions about their abilities and needs.

The Benefits of Employing Disabled Individuals

Employing disabled individuals brings numerous advantages. They often exhibit traits like resilience, problem-solving skills, and innovative thinking, developed through navigating a world not designed for them. These skills can be incredibly valuable in architecture, where creative and out-of-the-box thinking is crucial.

The Importance of Flexible Working

The pandemic has shown that flexible working is not only feasible but can also be beneficial for productivity and employee well-being. This flexibility is particularly advantageous for disabled employees but benefits all staff. Architectural firms that embrace flexible working can attract a wider pool of talent, including skilled disabled professionals.

Rethinking Recruitment and Inclusivity

The architectural industry needs to reconsider its recruitment practices to be more inclusive. This means going beyond traditional CVs and interviews to assess a candidate’s true potential and ability. Jane suggested that firms should focus on the candidate’s passion and potential rather than just their experience or the ability to perform in an interview setting.

Supporting Disabled Students in Architecture

A significant concern is the dropout rate of disabled students in architecture courses. The rigorous demands of the courses, coupled with potential accessibility issues, may deter talented individuals from pursuing a career in architecture. This calls for academic institutions to provide better support and accommodations for disabled students.

Embracing Disability as an Advantage

Jane’s discussion encourages us to view disability not as a hindrance but as an added value. Embracing disability in the job search process can lead to better matches between employees and employers. It’s about creating an environment where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can contribute effectively.

The Future of Architecture: Inclusivity and Diversity

The architectural industry stands at a crossroads where it can make significant strides towards inclusivity and diversity. By embracing disabled talent and rethinking traditional work structures, firms can not only fill skill gaps but also enrich their work culture and output.

In conclusion, Jane Hatton’s insights are a call to action for the architectural industry to break down barriers and embrace diversity in all its forms. For more resources and support, visit Evenbreak, a platform dedicated to connecting disabled job seekers with inclusive employers. This conversation is not just about hiring practices; it’s about building an architectural community that values every individual’s unique contributions.