Building a More Inclusive Workplace Through Work Trials

07 March 2024
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland held the 'More and Better Jobs for Disabled People' Conference in December 2023. Following this, Stephen Gibson, Branch Manager at JP Corry Dromore took part in a case study with NI Business Info. This case study covered his experience with workplace trials and supporting people with disabilities in the workplace. 

This case study explores the experiences of Stephen, in leading efforts to enhance the company's inclusivity in recruitment processes, particularly for individuals with disabilities. JP Corry, a prominent builder's merchant in Northern Ireland, has strategically aligned its values with social responsibility, resulting in the implementation of inclusive hiring practices.


Key Findings:

1. Commitment to Social Responsibility: JP Corry's commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices is integral to its identity. The company actively supports local charities, engages with social enterprises, and collaborates with organisations such as Disability Action, NOW Group, and WomensTec. This commitment stems from the belief that the organisation's purpose is to 'build our future by helping others build theirs.'

2. Embracing Diversity as a Core Value: The company's strong advocacy for diversity is evident in its Bronze mark of progress with Diversity Mark NI and recognition by Business in the Community (BITC) as a responsible business. The Human Resources (HR) team consistently forwards job vacancies to organisations focusing on disability support, fostering an environment that values diversity and inclusion.

3. Implementing Inclusive Hiring Practices: JP Corry has not only embraced Equal Opportunities Policies for years but has also conducted diversity training for managers. Recognising that the ideal candidate might not fit traditional molds, the company has opened doors to work experiences, allowing potential employees to explore the job environment before committing. The JobStart scheme, in collaboration with Disability Action, exemplifies JP Corry's commitment to inclusive hiring, with successful placements at the Dromore branch.

4. Collaborating with External Expertise: HR engages with various conferences and maintains strong relationships with charities and organisations. This external expertise provides up-to-date insights and support to HR, facilitating effective implementation of inclusive practices. Notably, partnerships with organisations like NOW Group have resulted in mutual benefits, such as employees completing OCN in Customer Service.

5. Positive Outcomes of Work Trials: Engaging in work trials through programs like JobStart and Department for Communities Work Experience Programme has proven successful for JP Corry. The company has experienced positive outcomes, including permanent hires and enhanced service offerings. The refreshing energy brought by individuals with disabilities has been well-received by both staff and customers.

6. Business Benefits and Employee Satisfaction: Adapting HR policies to embrace inclusivity has expanded JP Corry's talent pool and improved its recruitment strategy. The Dromore branch's experience attests to the positive impact on customer engagement and team dynamics. Staff members express satisfaction in providing opportunities to individuals with disabilities and witnessing the positive contributions they bring.

Based on Stephen's insights, the following tips are offered for businesses seeking to enhance inclusivity in recruitment:

  1. Embrace the Opportunity: Don't overthink the process; be open to trying new approaches and providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
  2. Forge Partnerships: Collaborate with external organisations, attend conferences, and build relationships to stay informed about best practices and receive support when needed.
  3. Prioritise Diversity Training: Ensure that managers and employees receive diversity training to foster a culture that values differences and embraces inclusivity.

JP Corry's journey towards inclusive recruitment practices, as shared by Stephen, reflects the positive impact on both the organisation and the individuals involved. By staying committed to social responsibility, embracing diversity as a core value, and actively collaborating with external expertise, JP Corry has successfully paved the way for individuals with disabilities to contribute meaningfully to the workplace.

Check out the article on NI Business Info: Using work trials to recruit someone with a disability - JP Corry |