Press release: Do not risk alienating disabled people when outsourcing: message of new guidance from Business Disability Forum

25 April 2017

London, UK: You can outsource delivery, but you cannot outsource the responsibility for your reputation.

That is the message of Business Disability Forum’s latest toolkit for businesses, ‘Achieving disability-smart outcomes with suppliers and partners’, sponsored by American Express.

The toolkit enables companies to ensure they are including  disabled people even while outsourcing parts of their services.

In 2016, research by Business Disability Forum found that more than half of businesses risk legal and financial problems because services such as HR and recruitment are run by outside suppliers without checks to ensure disabled people are treated fairly and included within their own businesses.

The ‘Suppliers and partners’ toolkit breaks down the process of working with suppliers and partners into five steps to ensure these arrangements are disability-smart.

It was unveiled at Business Disability Forum’s annual conference on 11 April, which explored how businesses could work together with their suppliers and partners to ensure the best outcomes for disabled people.

Business Disability Forum’s research paper ‘Disability-smart approaches to working with suppliers and partners’ showed that most companies outsourced at least some parts of their business.

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

“We know that many businesses, universities, and public sector organisations are making great strides in terms of catering to disabled people. They are seeing great rewards in terms of harnessing the Purple Pound and a huge untapped pool of fresh talent. In turn, the effort of this shift has the potential to transform the lives of disabled people in the UK and overseas.

“However, our research has identified a new barrier; the way that businesses work with suppliers and partners. This should be an area of concern for businesses who outsource, because while these elements of delivery fall outside the organisation the legal and financial risks of poor disability practice do not.

“But done well, working with suppliers and partners can present valuable opportunities. The company behind High Speed Two, for example, is championing disability inclusion  front and centre through its approach to suppliers, with the result that the project is on track to deliver for disabled employees and customers alike.

“It’s with this aim of turning challenges to opportunities in mind that we have unveiled this new toolkit. By following its five steps while procuring suppliers and partners, businesses can ensure that disabled people are included,  – whoever is responsible for  delivering projects and services.”




Notes to Editors

1.     Business Disability Forum represents around 300 organisations that employ 15% of the UK workforce. We have more than twenty-five years’ experience of equipping people with the expertise to create confident organisations by improving the understanding of disability in business, removing barriers and making adjustments for individuals.

2.     Our Disability Standard ( is the authoritative measure of how disability-smart an organisation is, providing a way to improve customer and employee experiences. The Disability Standard is kindly sponsored by Accenture.

3.     For more information, contact Samuel Buckley, Press Officer, by phone on 020 7403 3020 or by emailing