Identity

People who are visibly disabled or acquire a disability or “reveal” a disability feel isolated and do not realise that they are one of many not a few. They fail to find their tribe and community.
Bela Gor, Legal Director and Campaigns, Business Disability Forum

Identity matters

We are reclaiming the word disability from its negative associations and connotations and celebrating the fact that this is about all of us. We are talking about disability and to disabled people in all walks of life and at every level in society.

What is your identity?

Identity means very different things to different people and it can change many times in a lifetime.

For many people a big change in identity can come from being someone who doesn’t think of themselves as having a disability or long-term condition to someone who does.

This could be by:

  • Receiving a diagnosis that perhaps finally makes sense e.g. Asperger’s or dyslexia which may or may not be.
  • It can also be a diagnosis of an illness or a change in a condition.
  • For some it can be a realisation that they are ‘different’ because of a disability but they didn’t realise this before.

These moments of change can happen in everyone’s life and many if not most people have a disability or long term condition or certainly know someone or are close to someone that does. It’s just a new normal that everyone adjusts to over time and in different ways.

Having a disability is normal. It might just be a new normal for the individual. It is society and employers that need to recognise that having a disability doesn’t make the person “one of them”. They are one of us – the majority over time not a minority

Our research shows:

  • Disabled people do not see visibly or openly disabled people in positions of leadership that they can aspire to in the corporate world or in the mediia.
  • Disabled employees won’t identify as disabled and might wait until they have to tell someone about their disability because they need something to be done differently.
  • Employers and business are not always keeping up with the attitudes of younger people who have grown up with legislation outlawing disability discrimination and have expectations that business needs to meet.  This can result in brand damage and a loss of valuable young talent.
  • Customer facing businesses risk losing customers who fail to see themselves represented in their advertising, the people who work for them or in the products themselves. This ranges from retailers to media outlets.

What we are doing

What you can do

  • Run your own internal campaigns to celebrate disability – we can help you and feature them on our website e.g. Barclays See Me Campaign and the Fujitsu and Accenture campaigns
  • Listen to your staff disability networks
  • Appoint a Senior Disability Champion who speaks frequently and openly about disability.
  • Have a continuous feedback loop from your disabled staff to your senior teams

We are really keen to learn about your experiences of disability and identity. Whether it's a selfie, a poem, a short video or a blog you'd like to write.

To get involved in our campaign just email us at website@businessdisabilityforum.org.uk