Guide aims to help firms hire people with intellectual disabilities

Professional services firm EY’s ‘how to’ document draws on experience of recruiting during six-year collaboration with Trinity centre

A willingness by large employers to rethink aspects of recruitment and make small accommodations can open up important opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities and bring huge benefits to the businesses themselves, according to a guide published by professional services firm EY.

The guide, entitled Creating Meaningful Employment Opportunities for People with Intellectual Disabilities, is billed as a “how to” based on the firm’s experience of working with the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities to provide employment opportunities to graduates of its programmes.

The guide is to be published on Monday by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris, who described the initiative as “inspiring”.

EY says the scheme is one of a number intended to improve diversity at the firm and senior executives are effusive regarding the benefits such an approach brings to the company.


“The programme had increased employee morale and engagement, our workforce is much more welcoming as a result, much more inclusive,” said EY chief operating officer Sarah Connellan.

“We started working with the Trinity programme back in 2017 when Margaret Turley was the first graduate to join us and now we are up to eight graduates. We see the benefit to everyone: the graduates themselves, their families, our staff, because of the different perspective it gives them, and our business because of the more engaging employment atmosphere,” she said.

“What we want to do now was to provide a toolkit, a guidebook based on our own experiences that would provide guidance to any employer who wants to go on a similar journey. It’s not a rulebook, more a practical guide based on our learning.”

Ms Connellan noted that just 14.7 per cent of some 66,000 people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland are engaged in work but said that with very modest supports when joining, minor accommodations and mentoring, they can perform strongly and fit well into teams.

Employees interviewed for the guide speak highly of their experience working for the firm. “I feel when I’m in EY that no one cares [that I have special needs],” said Ms Turley. “When someone gives me a task to do they’ll email me everything I need and tell me as well. I don’t have to ask over and over again.”

Eavan Daly, a global compliance and reporting assistant, said: “I sit beside [my mentor] because we can talk and have a cup of tea. I can sit beside different people and they help me. We can have a laugh and a joke which is really important.”

The provision of volunteer mentors is one of the supports recommended in the guide which suggests helpful accommodations can be as minor as larger font sizes on screens, advice on commuting and dress codes or help with personal finances. The guide is available at

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times