Work & Education

Celebrate and encourage inclusivity by making your voice heard

It’s estimated that the ‘Purple Pound’ – the spending power of disabled people and their families – equates to about £249 billion a year. Some businesses deliver great service for disabled customers and employees, but others are still far behind.

To encourage inclusivity, Business Disability Forum wants to celebrate the best businesses and organisations that really do consider disabled people’s needs – and it wants YOU to nominate them. Here’s how you can make your voice is heard and help change attitudes toward disability…

For the first time, we are welcoming disabled people to put forward an organisation or business that cares about its disabled customers, users or employees. Our new Disabled People’s Choice Award will go the most inclusive service provider, employer or experience.

It could be a library, school, charity or health provider that you, a friend or family member really values.

NOMINATE NOW: Nominations for the Disabled People’s Choice Award close on 28th September 2018.

The winner will collect their award at our ceremony in November 2018 at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Diane Lightfoot, Chief Executive Officer at Business Disability Forum, said:

“There is some very good work going on in the disability space, with a lot of that work being led by innovative and proactive businesses.

We know that the best way to drive best practice is to highlight the areas where good work is happening, and the best way to measure that is to hear from disabled people. That’s why this year we are awarding a special prize to recognise companies chosen by disabled people themselves for exceptional practice around services, employment or products.”

Proctor & Gamble receiving its award

Disability-Smart Awards

The Disabled People’s Choice Award will be presented as part of our Disability-Smart Awards, which celebrate the best work in the disability world each year.

Previous winners of Disability-Smart Award categories have included Lloyds Banking Group, which won the special award ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ in 2017 for including disabled people when designing its services.

In 2018, Lloyds Banking Group went on to be certified as one of the best organisations for disabled people in the world, under Business Disability Forum’s benchmarking tool. You can visit our Roll of Honour to see all the other businesses that have passed our rigorous standards to be classed as fully inclusive.

The other six award categories are all opportunities to demonstrate how organisations are committed – in a variety of ways – to making their businesses inclusive to disabled customers and staff.

Winners from Macmillan Cancer Support

Senior Disability Champion

Awarded to a senior figure who has shown true leadership and commitment to making their business inclusive, using their position to enhance the experiences of disabled people.

Last year’s winner: Tony Cates, KPMG

Inclusive Service Provider

Awarded to the organisation that has significantly improved the accessibility of its products and/or services, therefore providing the best customer service possible to all of its customers, whether they’re disabled or not.

Last year’s winner: Procter & Gamble

Positive Cultural Change

Awarded to recognise the organisation that has made positive and transformational changes to its culture and attitudes toward disability.

Last year’s winner: Civil Service

Workplace Adjustments Innovation

Awarded to the organisation that has tapped into the talents of disabled people, displaying the most creative and timely ways of supporting disabled people with innovative adjustments.

Last year’s winner: Royal Bank of Scotland

Influential Business

Awarded to the organisation that has led the way and influenced others to make a positive change in practice and through policy.

Last year’s winner: Macmillan Cancer Support. 

Technology Initiative

Awarded for the best use of innovative technology to support and enhance the experience of disabled employees and/or customers.

Last year’s winner: Barclays

The role of assistive technology in inclusivity

Assistive technology and inclusivity go hand-in-hand. They help make adjustments for disabled people possible, allowing them to be an integral part of the workforce or a valued customer that uses the business time and time again.

That’s why we have two award categories that focus on it – the Technology Initiative and Workplace Adjustments Innovation awards, both sponsored by Microlink, a company striving for inclusion though workplace adjustments for a wide range of debilitation conditions.

Last year’s winner for Technology Initiative, Barclays, was recognised for becoming the first bank in the UK to introduce accessible debit card readers for disabled customers.

Workplace Adjustments Innovation winner, Royal Bank of Scotland RBS, developed a method of approaching workplace adjustments that Business Disability Forum’s assessors described as “one of the best we have ever seen.”

Award recipients at Barclays

How celebrating inclusivity will fuel change

Mark Lomas, Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at HS2 and one of the judges of the panel for the Disability-Smart Awards in 2017 and 2018 said:

“Being a judge on the Disability-Smart Awards panel is a great way for other businesses to learn. Some of the submissions are absolutely brilliant – and I can be really difficult to impress! The key thing when judging is really understanding the innovative work that goes on and, more crucially, the impact that it has on disabled people’s lives.

It’s encouraging to see so many organisations trying to get better at becoming disability-smart. It’s great to see the breadth, the innovation, creativity and impact on customers, employees – and the public in general. It shows the impact you make when you do something a bit different.

These awards demonstrate why it is important to be a disability-smart organisation. No-one means to exclude 20% of the population that could prove to be a valuable asset to their business or loyal customer. But by not being inclusive, they are. The awards highlight that change is possible – and has benefits for everyone.”

Nominations for the Disability-Smart Awards 2018 are open and can be made at Business Disability’s Forum website and its Disabled People’s Choice Awards page.

By Ebunola Adenipekun from Business Disability Forum

Photographs by Paul Demuth

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