Depending on what statistics you use, it’s estimated that 30% of the population have a disability. If you factor in those who have a family member or care for someone with a disability, the percentage of people who are impacted by disability increases. That is a high proportion of the workforce who potentially need support, making disability confidence an essential requirement for organisations.
Disability confidence is not just about putting on a big event. It is about cultivating a culture where the quietest person in the room feels comfortable to ask for support. Often, the closest relationship we have at work is with our line manager, so educating management on disability inclusion is important to give staff the assistance they need.
Often, people with a disability or health condition can feel apprehensive about changing roles or going for a promotion because they are comfortable working with a manager who is familiar with their needs. Consequently, this can impact their career development and progression.
That is why Enterprise developed a Wellness Plan that records a person’s workplace adjustments and can go with them as they advance their career with new line managers, making for easier conversations.
I spoke to my manager when I needed to take my son to hospital appointments for his congenital heart defect. I was able to manage different accounts for a time which made it easier to manage my work/life commitments. Now that my son is older, his needs are different and so the support I need has changed. Taking an individual approach that encompasses flexibility and the ability to evolve has been key.
As a senior manager, it is my hope that by telling my story it encourages more junior members of staff to realise they too can seek support. The constant reinforcement that it’s not lip-service helps to make a difference for others; it’s about continual authentic support.
Last year, we put on an event at Enterprise where a colleague shared that up to that point, she hadn’t felt comfortable talking about her own situation because of her negative experiences at a former workplace. Listening to others sharing their authentic stories made her feel much more comfortable and she realised that Enterprise takes the topic seriously.
Other things Enterprise has put in place:
Leadership training: How to have meaningful conversations, so everyone feels comfortable to ask for support.
Annual survey: We make it a priority to hear from our employees and collect useful insights on our performance in the disability space.
Employee Resource Groups: We have different employee networks for different diversity strands which promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
‘Purple Light Up’: We take part in in purple light up annual campaign to demonstrate our commitment to disability inclusion.
By working together with partners and other companies we can create a better experience for people with disabilities. That’s why we joined the leading charity Business Disability Forum among many other fantastic non-profit organisations to understand how we can drive meaningful change.
Most significantly, the extent to which an organisation can be deemed Disability Confident comes down to its ethos and culture. At Enterprise, it is part of what we do and who we are; it is our ‘Cultural Compass’. It is talked about; it is part of training; it is mentioned in Open Days; it is part of our reviews, our values.
This is then demonstrated and put into practice by the recruitment teams in the work they do at universities and in posts on social media and LinkedIn. We are upfront about it in our recruitment process and proactively ask candidates if they need anything to support them.
There is no one size fits all. Everyone is different and disability inclusion requires an individual approach. It is important to encompass an environment where everyone can feel comfortable being their authentic selves.
If you’re attracted to the idea of joining an inclusive and forward-thinking organisation like Enterprise, why not explore the current vacancies they have available at careers.enterprise.co.uk.