Scottish conference - Disability and beyond: All of me

Scottish conference disability and beyond all of me.

The start of a new year is an opportunity to reflect on whether the laws and attitudes of past decades are fit for the future.

According to stats from St Andrews University “around one fifth of Scotland's population – one million people – define themselves as disabled”

And as well as being disabled, we are also men, women, black, white, Asian, gay, straight, cis- or transgender.

Join Business Disability Forum as we discuss the intersections between disability and other protected and unprotected characteristics of people.

We’ll look at whether the Equality Act 2010 and the way in which organisations compartmentalise people by protected characteristics will continue to work in 2020 – and beyond – or if things need to change.

This conference will take place on Thursday 30 January 2020, following on from the successful Scottish conferences in 2017 and 2018, once again hosted by the Royal Bank of Scotland at their impressive Gogarburn Headquarters in Edinburgh.

We’ll discuss themes such as:

Is the Equality Act 2010 fit for 2020?

The Equality Act is ten years old and 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of its predecessor, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Does the legislation reflect modern society? In a time when identity is increasingly fluid, is protection by single characteristic enough or is it time to consider dual discrimination once again? High profile cases of older women arguing that they are being treated less favourably than men of similar ages begs the question if that is true in other areas as well. How different is the experience of disabled women from disabled men or black and ethnic minority disabled people compared to their white counterparts?

Join us as we discuss: How can we effectively help those with multiple protected and unprotected characteristics who are facing discrimination?                                                                                             

Too hot to handle? Women of a certain stage

While almost all women go through the menopause at some stage, it remains widely taboo to talk about it.

Most women experiencing the menopause will still be working and indeed are likely to be some of your most valued employees, yet a 2018 survey by the BBC found that 70% of women had not spoken to their employers about their often disabling symptoms. Nearly half the women in the BBC survey said that the menopause affected their mental health and a quarter said they wanted to stay at home.

Hear Lauren Chiren from Women of a Certain Stage speak about her own experience of the menopause the work she now does with women of a certain age.       

Men and mental health

Many employers are striving to ensure that they provide physically and mentally safe working environments with employee mental health and wellbeing high on the agenda. However, the number of suicides amongst men in Scotland rose by 15% in one year and the rate is three times higher for men than for women. Out of 784 recorded suicides 581 were men. This shocking statistic leads us to explore an area rarely touched on in Diversity and Inclusion debates – the lives and experiences of men. Few workplaces have or feel the need for men’s networks and perhaps few men would join them if they did exist.

Dr Wolfgang Seidl, Partner and Workplace Health Consulting Leader at Mercer Marsh will be speaking to Michael Macinnes, HR Performance Consultant at Royal Bank of Scotland about why so few men feel able to talk about their mental health and why they are so reluctant to do so at work.                                      

All of us – accessible tourism in Scotland

Disabled people want to travel, dine and holiday with their family, friends and colleagues and according to Visit Scotland, 54% of people with access requirements will avoid attractions and accommodations if they can't find accessibility information, 83% of disabled travellers tell others about their experience and 49% share their experience on social media, so it pays to be disability-smart

In this session Robin Shepherd CEO of Bespoke Hotels, Jan Kerr of Homelands and Moira Henderson of The Rings in Fife discuss why so few hotels and holiday apartments are accessible for disabled visitors, what they have done to address this and how this has impacted their businesses.

So join us on what promises to be a packed day filled with insights and thoughts on the future of disability and intersecting characteristics in Scotland – and beyond.

And fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe this year we have Juliette Burton who will provide our post-lunch food for thought comedy.

Generous support from the Royal Bank of Scotland means that we are able to offer places at this conference free of charge. Early booking is however recommended.

Further information can be found on the Business Disability Forum registration page

Further speakers will be announced in the lead up to the conference and this agenda is subject to change prior to finalising the agenda.

We welcome:

HR leads

Diversity and inclusion leads and practitioners

Those working in hospitality in Scotland

Those involved in workplace people strategies

Our agenda will be as follows:


Guest arrival

Bela Gor, Business Disability Forum
David Wheldon, Royal Bank of Scotland

Is the Equality Act 2010 fit for 2020?
Bela Gor, Chair, Business Disability Forum

Employee networks, Part of me?
Kate Nash OBE, Purple Space (Chair)
Dennis Howard, RBS Disability Network ENABLE
Jennifer Teacy, Scottish Water 


Health, work and identity
David Hanlan, Scottish Water 

Men and mental health 

Men and mental health panel
Dr Wolfgang Seidl, Mercer (Chair)
Alex McClintock, Andy’s Man Club
David Hanlan, Scottish Water
Michael Macinnes, Mind the Men

Lunch & exhibitor viewing 

Comedian fresh from the Fringe Festival
Juliette Burton, Comedian

Too hot to handle? Women of a certain stage
Lauren Chiren, Women of a Certain Stage


All of us: hospitable me, accessible tourism in Scotland

Brendan Roach, Business Disability Forum (Chair)
Robin Shepherd, Bespoke Hotel
Jan Kerr, Homelands Trust
Moira Henderson MBE, The Rings
Marina Di Duca, Visit Scotland

Closing statements
Diane Lightfoot, Business Disability Forum

Guest departure

Meet our speakers

Michael smiles at the camera Bela smiles at the camera Robin smiles at the camera

Michael Macinnes, HR Performance Consultant, The Royal Bank of Scotland

Bela Gor, Head of Content, Legal & Campaigns at Business Disability Forum

Robin Sheppard, Hotelier

David smiles at the camera Lauren smiles at the camera Wolfgang smiles at the camera

David Hanlan, HR Professional - Scottish Water

Lauren Chiren, Founder - Women of a certain stage

Dr Wolfgang Seidl, Partner and Leader Workplace Health Consulting UK and Europe - Mercer Marsh

Diane smiles at the camera Brendan smiles at the camera Jan smiles at the camera

Diane Lightfoot, CEO at Business Disability Forum

Brendan Roach, Global Taskforce & Partner Development Manager

Jan Kerr, Secretary and Trustee, Homelands Trust-Fife

Juliette smiles at the camera Moira smiles at the camera Kate smiles at the camera

Juliette Burton, Award-winning performer, writer, presenter and broadcast journalist.

Moira Henderson, Partner at M C Henderson


Kate Nash, Creator & CEO of PurpleSpace


Alex smiles at the camera David smiles at the camera Dennis smiles at the camera

Alex McClintock, Trustee for Andy's Man Club

David Wheldon, Chief Marketing Officer of RBS


Dennis Howard, Executive Director and Head of Middle East and Asia at Coutts


Jennifer smiles at the camera Maria smiles at the camera

Jennifer Teacy, Business Analyst Scottish Water

Marina Di Duca, Inclusive Tourism Manager at VisitScotland

Meet our exhibitors:

Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE)