This social entrepreneur is bridging the 'hiring gap' for people with disabilities

Teresa Scott is helping candidates secure sustainable employment

VITAL STATISTICS
Company: Kennedy Scott Ltd
What it does: Highly regarded supplier of training and employability services to Government
Founder: Teresa Scott OBE, MBA
Founded: 1989
Size of team: Total staff 70
Your name and role: Teresa Scott, Founder and CEO

How did your entrepreneurial journey begin at Kennedy Scott?
I had been working for another organization designing and managing training schemes for young people and blue chip companies and had been pretty autonomous in my role for a few years. I was more or less a one-person operation and thought- you know what? I could do this for myself! So, with the help of friends who backed me financially, I started the company in 1989. Kennedy Scott is now the highest performing provider of Employability support services to people most marginalized from the labour market in the UK.

How is your business challenging the traditional recruitment industry?
Using a bespoke and ‘revolutionary’ assessment process, Kennedy Scott’s trained caseworkers quickly identify the real issues affecting an individual’s rehabilitation and work together to address the barriers impacting the individual’s ability to secure sustainable employment. Through this ‘Circle of Support’, the individual is supoorted with a suite of interventions designed specifically to create a routemap to rehabilitation and employment.

What problems are you trying to solve?
I want to bridge the employability gap for people with disabilities or mental health challenges. We are soon launching a new service for the corporate sector providing advice and guidance to companies wanting to recruit candidates from such backgrounds. We are a catalyst between the candidate and the company, bridging the gap by supporting both parties to get the best from the working relationship. We aim to help candidates in the workplace if they have a health challenge or mental health concerns.

How do you make money?
We run Government-funded contracts, and offer independent advice to companies for a consultancy fee.

Where do you see the company in the next five years?
In five years’ time, I see Kennedy Scott expanding considerably whilst retaining its market leadership in our field. We will also advise both industry and governments, home and abroad, to achieve full employment for everyone who is capable of working, whatever health challenge, disability or mental health issues they happen to have.

What are the major trends shaping the employment industry currently?
Flexible working is a huge trend shaping the workforce in Britain. Apart from saving organization’s money, flexible working offers better opportunities for both women and men who have parental or caring responsibilities. It is a complete waste to train and invest in people over years, only to let them go when they need some flexibility in their work pattern. This does not mean lack of productivity,but that they can be productive at different times.

Companies are now looking at flexible work arrangements to retain their qualified and experienced staff, rather than starting from scratch. This also applies to health issues— support during a difficult period benefits both parties and is paid back tenfold by increased loyalty and commitment once the person recovers.

What distinguishes Kennedy Scott from its competitors?
We offer a human approach. We treat people as individuals not categories, with regards to our own staff and customers, but above all we aim to provide the highest level of customer service and support to both.

When faced with a candidate who is capable but just happens to have a disability or health challenge we look at what they can now do - not what they cannot do. It’s an altogether more positive approach and one Prince Harry advocates through his amazing Invictus Games. He has done more to promote the capabilities of people with disabilities, in the last three years, than governments have achieved in the last twenty years.

What is your business mantra?
Aim to be great and the financial success will come from that.

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