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Everything you ever wanted to know about disability inclusion – but were afraid to ask

Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum

Diane Lightfoot looks at cameraMore businesses than ever are now realising the multiple benefits to be reaped from being truly inclusive, both in attracting disabled talent and meeting the needs of disabled customers. The evidence is there in the number of new organisations joining us – we now have 400 Members and Partners – and that is great to see.

But for those who are just beginning to think about disability inclusion, it can feel daunting or even overwhelming. Disability still gets parked in the “too difficult” or “too sensitive” box and too often, people are so worried about getting it wrong – saying or doing the wrong thing and causing offence – that they do nothing. Worse, they often feel embarrassed to ask, feeling that they should somehow know the answer already; whereas the reality is that every single one of us had to learn and continues to learn every day.

At our annual conference this month, we wanted to put those questions on the table and, as well as looking at the latest thinking in disability inclusion, also talk about the building blocks and foundations for the start of your Disability Smart journey. So, our first panel session “Everything you ever wanted to know about disability inclusion but were afraid to ask” will be doing just that with our BDF expert panel on hand to answer all your questions and queries disability related. There is no such thing as a silly question so we really hope you will ask that burning question you’ve always wanted to know the answer to! Ultimately, we hope that the session will help equip you with the confidence to talk about disability in the workplace, to start a conversation to ask for or provide what they need and simply realise that disability doesn’t have to be difficult.

And for those of you who are new to this space and finding it daunting to be in the company of so many businesses who seemingly have it cracked, I will let you into a secret – perfection doesn’t exist. There is always more we can do to push the agenda on inclusion, to learn and develop – to quote one of the CEOs in our Partner group, “this is a journey that is never over”. The important thing is that we work together and support each other to take those first steps and get better. I am always struck by both the modesty and the generosity around the (now virtual) table at our networks and taskforces and how important our Members and Partners find them as a safe space to share issues and challenges as well as successes. So, wherever you are, however long you have been doing this, I hope you will enjoy the opportunity to tune in, refresh your memory and perhaps even pick up something new along the way.

We will be exploring these themes and more at our forthcoming virtual conference “Disability: what’s new, what’s next” which takes place on Wednesday 30 June thanks to the generous sponsorship of our Partner HSBC. You can find out more and register your place here.

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