Skip to main content
Business Disability Forum. Disability Smart Awards 2021. Sponsored by Microlink.

Disability Smart Awards 2021 - Winners

Welcome to Business Disability Forum’s Disability Smart Awards, sponsored by Microlink! Find out more about the winners.

Business Disability Forum. Disability Smart Awards 2021. Sponsored by Microlink.
  1. Disability Smart Communications Team Award
  2. Disability Smart Customer Service Award
  3. Disability Smart Diversity & Inclusion Professional Award
  4. Disability Smart Environment Award
  5. Disability Smart Leader Award
  6. Disability Smart Learning & Development Team Award
  7. Disability Smart Procurement Team Award
  8. Disability Smart Recruitment Team Award
  9. Disability Smart Small and Medium Enterprises Award
  10. Disability Smart Technology Award
  11. Disability Smart Workplace Adjustments Award
  12. Disability Smart Workplace Experience Award
  13. Disability Confident Impact Award
  14. Disability Confident COVID-19 Innovation Award
  15. Disability Confident Mental Health in the Workplace Award

Winner: Unilever

Highly Commended: Inclusion North CIC


  • The Ehlers-Danlo Support UK
  • Inclusion North CIC
  • Signly
  • Total Communication
  • Unilever

The Disability Smart Communications Award recognises organisations or teams that have created truly inclusive and accessible communications for disabled people. 

The judging panel chose Unilever for its efforts to embed inclusive communication practices across all its communication channels.  

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“Unilever has put inclusion at the heart of its internal and external communication strategies, breaking down communication barriers and changing culture. Alongside this, members of its disability networks are playing a key role in strategic decision making, helping shape Unilever to be a more inclusive workplace.  

“Unilever’s public commitment to disability inclusion is clearly replicated through its internal communications, events, campaigns, and decision making. The organisation is using its substantial reach to make a significant difference.” 

Winner: Skipton Building Society

Highly Commended: Unilever


  • Alexandra Park & Palace Charitable Trust
  • National Highways
  • Skipton Building Society
  • Unilever

The Disability Smart Customer Service Award recognises organisations that have provided excellent customer service not just to disabled people but to everyone. 

The judging panel chose Skipton Building Society for the ambitious training programme they have rolled out to their customer facing staff.  

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“Skipton Building Society have become the early adopters and leaders in the field of accessible communication. They have really taken up the baton, rolling out Communication Access UK (CAUK) training to all their customer facing colleagues. They are also offering the training to their non-customer facing colleagues. Skipton Building Society are already seeing the benefits within their organisation, and we look forward to seeing where they take it next. 

Winner: Monika Jankowska-Rangelov, State Street

Highly Commended: Mark Russell, KPMG


  • GSK
  • HM Revenue & Customs
  • KPMG
  • State Street

The Disability Smart Diversity and Inclusion Practitioner Award recognises professionals who have made an outstanding contribution to furthering disability inclusion within their organisation and beyond. The award celebrates individuals who have been working, often behind the scenes and unnoticed, to keep disability inclusion at the forefront of their organisation’s diversity and inclusion agenda. 

The judging panel chose Monika Jankowska-Rangelov, from State Street, for the breadth of her activity, both within her organisation and externally. 

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“Monika has driven a phenomenal amount of change since joining State Street, including developing the first ERG for employees with disabilities, establishing a mentoring programme and ensuring that disability is on the agenda at the highest level.  

“She is a true and authentic role model, sharing her story to inspire change, particularly in Poland where she is raising aspirations of employment amongst disabled people, many of whom are economically inactive.” 


Winner: University of Warwick

Highly Commended: Hotel Brooklyn


  • Hotel Brooklyn
  • Network Rail
  • University of Warwick

The Disability Smart Built Environment Award recognises organisations that have created beautiful, accessible and inclusive physical environments for everyone, including disabled people. The award celebrates truly inclusive design that has gone the extra mile to break down barriers experienced by disabled people. 

The judging panel chose University of Warwick for the work carried out by its Estates Team to create a suite of accessible rooms within its student accommodation. The accommodation is already being used and is expected to benefit many more disabled students in the future. 

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“This is a great example of normalising access features so that students who need adjustments and support can live in halls and participate in student life as independently as possible. 

“The spark for this work was a particular student with complex disabilities and care needs. The student had been turned away from several other universities because of a lack of suitable accommodation. We commend the Estates Team for showing what can be achieved.” 

Winner: Ian Stuart, HSBC


  • HSBC
  • ING Bank
  • Millwood Servicing
  • Ruh Global

The Disability Smart Leader Award recognises inspirational leaders who have led and overseen the implementation of real and tangible improvements for disabled people. The award celebrates individuals who lead by example and use their position to create a better environment for disabled people locally, nationally, and globally. 

The judging panel chose Ian for his ongoing commitment to achieving disability inclusion throughout HSBC. 

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“Ian Stuart is an exemplar as a disability champion and in his leadership in driving disability inclusion throughout HSBC. He actively and consistently demonstrates the power of storytelling, sharing his experiences as a father of disabled adults and creating a safe space for others to ask for the support they need.  

“He recognises both the business benefits and the ethical imperative as a large employer of a diverse and inclusive workforce and is constantly challenging the bank to build and do more. He is a great external advocate too, leading the conversation and championing change in the wider business community.” 

Winner: Microsoft


  • Brighter Futures Project
  • Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust
  • Microsoft

The Disability Smart Learning and Development Award recognises teams that have created innovative, engaging and most of all, inclusive and accessible learning and development solutions for everyone, including disabled people. 

The judging panel chose Microsoft for their work to identify gaps in the digital accessibility learning experience, which has created a vast range of L&D resources aimed at building understanding.  

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“We were impressed by the range of resources that have already been created and those that are yet to come. These include the Accessibility Fundamentals learning path and the creation of a YouTube channel. The team at Microsoft have reached over 500,000 learners to date and have helped inspire other companies and government departments to adopt their own L&D initiatives.”  

Winner: Tony Cates, KPMG

The Disability Smart Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates the work of an outstanding individual who has shown ongoing commitment to improving life opportunities for disabled people. 

Business Disability Forum chose Tony Cates for his long service as Senior Disability Champion at KPMG. Tony used his own experiences of hearing loss to increase understanding of disability throughout the organisation, including at board level. 

Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum said: 

Tony Cates is a true role model as a senior leader who talks openly about his disability. He has been Senior Disability Champion at KPMG for many years, using his influence to increase understanding of disability within the organisation and beyond. He is also a great nurturer and developer of his team, recognising the need to bring colleagues on the journey with him.  

“With Tony retiring from KPMG this year, we want to thank him for committing so much of his working life to achieving change for disabled people. He epitomizes what senior leadership is all about and I am delighted that we are able to mark his achievements through this new Disability Smart Award.” 

Winner: British Land

The Disability Smart Procurement Award recognises organisations that have demonstrated a clear commitment to disability inclusion throughout their procurement processes.  

The judging panel chose British Land for their efforts to create truly inclusive developments, from design right through to building and fitting out. 

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“British Land has demonstrated a clear commitment to designing and building fully inclusive developments. 

“Selecting the right suppliers to work with on these projects was critical to the successful delivery of inclusive places from design to build phase, and right through fitting-out ready for occupation.  

“Robust and carefully developed procurement policies and processes ensured that only suppliers who could demonstrate a clear commitment to inclusive design and strong disability awareness would be utilised.” 



Winner: Oliver James

Highly Commended: Mills & Reeves


  • Microsoft
  • Mills & Reeve
  • Oliver James
  • Tesco

The Disability Smart Recruitment Award recognises recruitment teams that have created innovative, engaging and most of all, inclusive and accessible recruitment campaigns that have resulted in greater numbers of disabled people obtaining work or accessing a profession. 

The judging panel chose Oliver James for identifying the need for a different approach to raising the profile of disabled candidates and for proactively working with employers to increase employment opportunities for disabled people.  

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“Oliver James has created a unique recruitment service largely comprising of recruiters living with a disability. They have already welcomed many clients to their talent pool of disabled candidates.” 

“The organisation is not only proactively representing disabled candidates but is also working in partnership with their based Hong Kong based clients to increase cultural understanding of the value of a diverse workforce.” 

Winner: Millwood Servicing

Highly Commended: Patchwork Hub


  • Genius Within
  • Millwood Servicing
  • Open Inclusion
  • Patchwork Hub
  • Town Hall Group
  • Your Local Cinema

The Disability Smart SME Award recognises small businesses and start-ups that value the physical and mental wellbeing of all their workers, including disabled people, through thoughtful, engaging and inclusive workplace practices.  

The judging panel chose Millwood Servicing for their efforts to create employment opportunities for disabled people, both within the fire safety industry and beyond.  

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“Millwood Servicing has introduced two exemplary initiatives to help people furthest from labour market to gain skills and work opportunities.  

“Millwood Servicing is demonstrating that any company, regardless of their size and the sector they operate in, can do incredible things to remove barriers for disabled people.” 

The Disability Smart Awards are awarded annually by Business Disability Forum. The awards celebrate and promote disability inclusive practice across areas including leadership, recruitment, workplace experience, customer service, and built environment. 

Winner: Signly

Highly Commended: Digit Audio Tech


  • AccessAble
  • Digit Audio Technology
  • Signly

The Disability Smart Technology Award recognises organisations that have developed technology to improve the life chances of disabled people through inclusive design.  

The judging panel chose Signly for their innovative work to make websites more accessible to Deaf people. 

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“Signly recognises that British Sign Language (BSL) is the first language of many Deaf people in the UK – not English. By offering sign language translation on websites, Signly is giving BSL users great choice and control over how they access information. It is also creating greater independence by reducing reliance on interpreters. We look forward to seeing more organisations using Signly on their websites and digital channels in the future.”

Winner: GSK

Highly Commended: Accenture


  • Accenture
  • Beds Police, Cambs & Herts Constabularies
  • GSK
  • Tesco
  • West Midlands Police

The Disability Smart Workplace Adjustment Award recognises teams that have developed and implemented a workplace adjustments process that has proven to have improved the working lives of disabled people. 

The judging panel chose GSK for developing a broad and sophisticated workplace adjustments process built on empowerment and trust. 

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“GSK employees can self-serve assistive technology adjustments with auto approval and are not required to demonstrate that they have a disability or condition in order access support. Rather, the emphasis is on productivity and supporting everyone to thrive at GSK. Adjustments are offered to all new hires in their job offer letter and the satisfaction scores for the service are outstanding.” 

Winner: KPMG

Highly Commended: Auto Trader


  • Auto Trader
  • Bristol Myers Squibb
  • KPMG
  • Mace Group

The Disability Smart Workplace Experience Award recognises organisations that have gone the extra mile to become a truly great place to work. The award celebrates organisations that can clearly demonstrate that they value the physical and mental wellbeing of all their workers, including disabled people. 

The judging panel chose KPMG for introducing a wide range of activities which focus on staff wellbeing and intersectionality.  

In their feedback, the judging panel said: 

“Lots of lip-service has been paid to the pandemic providing an opportunity for change. KPMG fall firmly in the camp that have grasped this opportunity and have clear, long ranging outcomes to show for it.  

“Their care for staff wellbeing is highlighted in their decision to focus on wellbeing resources in all communications, continually checking in with disabled colleagues and also creating a ‘Covid Special Leave Code’ which colleagues could use if they were unable to work due to parental or caring responsibilities, with no impact on their pay or benefits. 

“There has been a focus on intersectionality, whilst their ‘make a difference by sharing your difference’ campaign and performance manager training rounds out an excellent all-round package of activity.” 

This award will go to a Disability Confident employer that can demonstrate that they have actively supported their disabled employees throughout the pandemic period. This could include making appropriate workplace adjustments that have enabled staff to work remotely or in a blended way, supporting them to deliver their work effectively.

We want to reward and showcase an inspirational employer that can demonstrate that they have gone the extra mile to support disabled people.

Winner: Mark Russell, KPMG

Highly Commended: HM Revenue & Customs


  • Gill Brown, HM Revenue & Customs
  • HSBC
  • KPMG
  • Shell
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS FT

This award will go to an organisation that can demonstrate that they have actively progressed through the different levels of the Disability Confident scheme.

They will also demonstrate that there has been a positive impact on the organisation in terms of disability employment and other opportunities such as apprenticeships, internships, work experience.

Winner: West Midlands Police

Highly Commended: Do-IT Solutions


  • Aquarius Hair Design
  • Do-IT Solutions
  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Wellbeing Link
  • West Midlands Police

This award will go to a Disability Confident employer that can demonstrate that they have placed Mental Health and Wellbeing at the heart of their organisation.

Winner: Anglo American

Highly Commended: GSK


  • Anglo American
  • CBRE
  • GSK
  • Horizon Vehicle Management
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS FT

We are Business Disability Forum.

We believe the 26 million people in the UK and over 1 billion people worldwide with disabilities and long-term conditions enhance the social and economic health of our societies. We exist to remove barriers in business structures and Government that prevent disabled people from thriving and contributing in this way.

Our Awards recognise those that are leading the way in inclusive and accessible practices as organisations they put in place. We really want to see are your exceptional stories that truly demonstrate leadership in action.

The judges are a highly experienced group of practitioners at Business Disability Forum. We are really looking forward to reading your stories!

1. Sarah Bartlett

2. Ebunola Adenipekun

3. Anthony Allison-Burke

4. Lucy Ruck

5. Fleur Donnelly-Jackson

6. Diane Lightfoot

7. Adrian Ward

8. Davina Critchley

9. Hazel Leighfield

10. Ruth Fisher

11. Daniel Cadey

12. Parma Sira

13. George Wright

14. Vicky Dermitzi

15. Angela Matthews

16. Julie Smith, DWP

17. Julie Williams, DWP

18. Amanda Wadsworth MBE DL, DWP

Supported by Barclays and hosted by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office  

Our 2019 Disability-Smart Awards recognised and celebrated businesses that have demonstrated outstanding and innovative practice. Businesses large and small and across all sectors have helped transform the lives of disabled people in the workplace and in society. 

The Disabled People’s Choice Award was selected by disabled people from the public and they were able to nominate organisations they felt showed inclusivity and accessibility.

Please find here the winners, the criteria, and the rationale for each category of our Disability-Smart Awards 2019.

Loading, Please Wait