Rebecca Elliott, Disability Business Partner at Business Disability Forum, looks back on the ‘Working together to tap into disabled talent’ panel discussions at our Global Conference on 1 November 2023 (sponsored by HSBC).
As a Disability Business Partner, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to navigate the complexities of collaboration across different jurisdictions, cultures and language differences, as over 50% of the Members I work with have a global presence.
The ‘Working together to tap into disabled talent’ sessions at our Global Conference (1 November 2023) brought panel guests together from across the globe to share details of their partnership working, to advance disability inclusion in their organisations.
Vineeta Raghuwanshi (EY, India) talked about harnessing the power of employee resource groups to create the necessary ripples to create a sea change, reminding us that customers want to see diversity across teams and those customers demand change in exchange for the spending power of their purple pounds.
Danielle Meadows (JPMorgan Chase & Co, USA) spoke about re-imagining supported employment during the pandemic, by hiring disabled people to input data sets to train AI models. She also shared her view that the most vital step to take is to go ahead and ‘just start’ your inclusion work. I thought this was brilliant advice.
The inclusion journey is not a race, but for every second an organisation falters on the starting line, delaying the implementation of its inclusion priorities, another disabled person is left sitting outside the stadium wishing they could get inside to join in and feel like they belong. It is so important to just get going!
Lara Partridge (HSBC, Hong Kong) spoke about the potential for recruitment to unlock opportunities. Recruitment is a door which needs to stay wide open for disabled people to come onboard. The best way to encourage disabled talent to walk through that door is to make a hiring process truly inclusive, which will help your organisation recruit that valuable disabled talent. Back in 2021, inclusive recruitment initiatives gave me the opportunity to work alongside my disability and the key to encouraging my application lay in the job design and the workplace adjustments, especially the ability to work from home.
Lara also commented on the power of storytelling to enable leadership teams to get ‘unstuck’.
I think understanding where your organisation sits on its disability inclusion journey can sometimes seem incredibly daunting, like strapping your toes into the blocks ahead of a marathon; anticipating the scale of work involved may make your legs ache before you’ve even left the starting line. Lara’s approach to the task, asking “what will it take for HSBC to be an inclusive organisation?” and then working out their strategy to reach that point, seemed both manageable and logical. Personally, I like to know exactly where I’m headed, because I can always see the end goal in the distance, urging me onwards.
Both panel sessions re-focused my attention on supporting member organisations to become disability smart with the understanding that no awareness can be raised, targets achieved or performances measured if you don’t “just start”. Setting out on the journey is simply so important. It may be a long road but that’s no reason not to take the first step.
Now, on your marks. Get set…
Maximise your membership benefits to help you get started on your journey.
Partners can use our updated Global Toolkit – Business Disability Forum which provides a ‘roadmap’ to developing a global disability inclusion strategy.
Members and Partners can watch the sessions from our global conference.