Press release: Business Disability Forum announces winners of the 2018 Disability-Smart Awards

30 November 2018

London, UK – Business Disability Forum has announced the winners of the 2018 Disability-Smart Awards today (29 November), recognising individuals and organisations around the world that have made an outstanding contribution to disabled people.

Paralympian Stef Reid presented nine awards in total at a prestigious ceremony at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall, London. The event was sponsored by Barclays.

Winners and finalists included a wide range of organisations, from a Premier League football club, to tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook, to start-ups, government departments and a primary school in South London.

Most notable among the awards, and new for this year, was the Disabled People’s Choice Award for the most inclusive service provider, employer or experience. This award is reserved for organisations nominated by disabled people.

Business Disability Forum also gave special recognition to Stefan Springham, Diversity Manager at Royal Bank of Scotland, with an award for ‘outstanding contribution to business accessibility and inclusion’ and to Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, for being a ‘Global Leader for Business Disability Inclusion’ for his work in bringing disability to wider stage at Davos.

The judging panel for the awards included leading experts in the area of disability, representatives from BDF's Member and Partner organisations and disabled opinion leaders.

The winners of the awards were as follows:

Disabled People’s Choice Award for the most inclusive service provider, employer or experience: Liverpool FC
The Premier League football club won for its “amazing” team of Accessibility Stewards, who work hard to make sure all fans have the same excellent experience, even accompanying fans to away games in Kiev.

Senior disability champion of the year: Sir Philip Rutnam, Permanent Secretary, UK Civil Service
Sir Philip Rutnam, Permanent Secretary of the Home Office and Civil Service Disability Champion, was awarded in recognition of his ongoing commitment to championing employment opportunities for disabled people across all levels of the civil service, and for embedding disability inclusion in organisational culture.

Inclusive service provider of the year: Gatwick Airport
One of the busiest airports in the world, Gatwick introduced a disability lanyard scheme aimed at giving people with non-visible disabilities the confidence to fly. The scheme has since been adopted by all UK airports as well as several international airports.

Positive cultural change of the year: West Midlands Police
The police force won in recognition of their work on combatting historic stigma around disability and mental health, while introducing a range of measures to better support employees across the force.

Workplace adjustments innovation of the year (sponsored by Microlink): Financial Conduct Authority
This was awarded to Financial Conduct Authority for achieving an office move of 3,500 employees, which took into account all different types of disability, and, in particular, neurodiverse and mental health conditions.

Influential business of the year: KPMG
KPMG used its platform to make a high-profile call for businesses to nominate disability champions by 2020, and was even cited by other Disability-Smart Award nominees as an influence on their work.

Technology initiative of the year: Microsoft
Nominated alongside Facebook and Scotland start-up Neatebox, Microsoft won for applying cutting edge technologies to ensure their widely-used products were as accessible to as many customers as possible.

Diane Lightfoot, Chief Executive Officer at Business Disability Forum, said:

“Through the Disability-Smart Awards we aim to recognise those individuals who work tirelessly, and often with little recognition, to create a more inclusive environment for disabled people.

“We received an overwhelming number of entries for this year’s awards, especially for our inaugural Disabled People’s Choice Award.

“Such was the variety of the good work being done that we have seen multinational companies,
tech start-ups, councils and football clubs standing shoulder-to-shoulder in our group of nominees.

“All of their work has been excellent, and competition was incredibly tough this year.”

For more details around the winners visit