Press release: Champion of workplace mental health receives special recognition at Disability-smart Awards

15 November 2016

London, UK: Business Disability Forum have honoured the achievements of Cisco Account Manager Heather Carey who made it her mission to raise mental health awareness at her workplace and shared her own story of living with anxiety.

Heather Carey won the Disability Champion award at the 2016 Disability-smart Awards on 9 November for her tireless work to widen the conversation around mental health at her workplace. Heather launched a campaign to raise awareness of how stress and work pressures can impact on mental health and how the business could support employees’ wellbeing.

She inspired colleagues by sharing her own story of living and working with anxiety.

Heather then led the training of 21 volunteers who are specially equipped to provide mental health support across Cisco, who are now based at all 17 of Cisco’s sites in the UK and Ireland. A further 42 employees joined a support network for wellbeing, mental health and self-help.

These campaigns led to a wide-scale movement at Cisco to break the taboo around mental health, create a supportive culture and establish the organisation as a thought leader for mental health and wellbeing.

David Goodchild, Joint Interim CEO at BDF, said:

“Heather’s tireless efforts to champion mental health awareness have brought about real change. The culture of openness and support at Cisco is exemplary and should be inspiration for other businesses.

“This success is a direct result of Heather’s singular drive to transform approaches to mental health in the workplace.”

Also highly commended was Heather’s Cisco colleague Mayte Cubino Gonzalez, Leader for Talent Strategy at Cisco’s Brussels Technical Assistance Centre.

Mayte is the author of Cisco’s Hidden Disabilities Awareness campaign, which has had a huge impact at the company through promoting reasonable accommodations for a more inclusive and collaborative workplace.

She was driven to raise awareness and improve support for employees with hidden disabilities through the experience of a family member.

Launching a campaign to end stigma around hidden disabilities, Mayte seeks to end the negative view of disability by approaching it positively as difference and strength.

She used the heightened awareness brought about by her campaign to launch a new initiative to hire people with disabilities in the Technical Services function at Cisco.

David said:

“That we chose to recognise two employees at Cisco shows how individuals are leading organisation-wide changes in approaches to disability.

“Mayte has shown remarkable drive, enthusiasm and positivity in her efforts to change thinking around conditions in the workplace.

“She has also put these into practice in the Cisco’s recruitment process, an initiative which will have a lasting positive impact.”




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. For more information about BDF’s Disability Standard sponsored by Accenture and to view the Roll of Honour, please visit


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