Press release: Business Disability Forum announces 2017 conference: disability-smart suppliers and partners opened Penny Mordaunt

27 January 2017

Business Disability Forum (BDF) is pleased to announce that its 2017 conference is now open for registrations.


Focusing on disability-smart suppliers and partners, the conference will take place at the Royal College of Nursing on Tuesday 11 April 2017 and be opened by Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt.

The conference will explore the findings of BDF’s 2016 research paper, ‘Key aids and barriers to effectively engaging suppliers and partners’, which found that more than 60 per cent of outsourcing deals between organisations and outside suppliers failed to build disability into the final outcome, leaving many companies at risk of being inaccessible.

The research revealed that: 

Only one in four businesses review contracts with third-party suppliers and partners to ensure that they deliver on the requirements for inclusion and accessibility. 

Less than two in five businesses report having had discussions with suppliers and partners about how they approach disability outside of formal processes.

Shortcomings in these deals could affect business areas as diverse as ICT, recruitment, training and customer service and could undermine an organisation’s commitment to being disability-smart. 

The conference will see BDF release new guidance informed by the research, 'Step by step: Achieving disability-smart outcomes in work with suppliers and partners' 

It will feature high profile guest speakers as well as lessons and best practices from 12 businesses that have innovated their approaches to working with suppliers to deliver better disability-smart outcomes for colleagues, candidates and customers.

David Goodchild, Joint Interim CEO of Business Disability Forum, said: 

“Recent news stories have highlighted the risks involved in working relationships that do not keep disability at the forefront.

“Ultimately, even an organisation that is very strongly committed to being disability-smart may be held back in practice by the contracts they draw up with suppliers and partners.

“We hope that our conference, in exploring our research around this issue, will help to steer conversations within businesses to ensuring that disability is made a key part of deals between organisations.”




Notes to editors

1.    Business Disability Forum (BDF) is a world-leading membership body bringing together business and the public sector to build disability-smart organisations. BDF has more than 25 years’ experience of working with public and private sector employers and service providers. For more information about the Forum please visit:

2.    Register for BDF’s Conference: Disability-smart suppliers and partners by visiting 

3.    For more information about the research paper ‘Key aids and barriers to effectively engaging suppliers and partners’, please visit BDF’s Research and Insight page at

4.    For further information on BDF please contact Samuel Buckley on