How can we ensure more disabled people gain access to employment?

Improved communication between employers and employees and ensuring joined-up working between disability initiatives are key to progressing the careers of disabled people, agreed a panel of experts yesterday [Monday 19 February, 2018].

The disability experts from government, big business and charities had gathered together at a high-level roundtable event organized by LEAD: Leadership for Equality and Diversity that was focused on disability and work – specifically how organisations can ensure that more disabled people gain access to, retain and progress in employment.

For Joanne Hoare, HR specialist at the Environment Agency, the answer was to be found in communications. “We are working with our internal networks, where there are people who understand the issues, to reach managers and explain what we are doing. We have found that as a result we have people coming forward to share their experiences of disability because they recognise that by doing so they can help others,” she said.

Paulette Cohen, director of diversity and inclusion at Barclays Bank, said that a key challenge is not just the breadth and scope of the disability issue but actually ensuring that organisations can benefit from the various initiatives that are taking place: “There is so much going on; the more joined-up work that can be done, the better. That will be the best solution for reaching out to more businesses, particularly for smaller businesses,” she urged.

The LEAD roundtable on disability and employment was kindly sponsored by Microlink PLC, and was chaired by Graeme Whippy MBE, disability consultant.

It was attended by:

Giles Barker BEM, chair of the Adjustments Group, Transport for London
Paulette Cohen, director of diversity and inclusion, Barclays Bank
Philip Connolly, policy and communications manager, Disability Rights UK
Helen Cooke, director, My Plus Consulting
Raymond Dempsey, D&I policy manager, Cabinet Office
Andy Garrett, workplace adjustment manager at GSK and Purple Space Ambassador
Rebekah Gilligan, business disability manager, HSBC
Jennifer Harris, programme manager, group disability programme, Lloyds Banking Group
Joanne Hoare, HR specialist, Environment Agency,
Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum
Mike Mason-Williams, government and infrastructure account director, KPMG
Phil McCusker, COO, Purple
Dr Nasser Siabi, CEO, Microlink
Iain Wilkie, disability consultant and former partner, EY

The full write-up, which will be focused on sharing practical insights and solutions to key challenges, will be published in the Spring issue of LEAD – out end of April 2018. To make sure you receive a copy, subscribe to LEAD today.