Guest blog: Asif Sadiq

Disability Confident: Asif Sadiq tells us all about The Telegraph's journey to Disability Confidence

In this next blog in our Disability Confident series, we talk to Asif Sadiq, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at the Telegraph Media Group. In his blog, he explains why The Telegraph joined The Department of Work and Pensions’ Disability Confident Scheme and what the rewards have been so far…
 


Disability confident signpost image


How did you find out about the Disability Confident scheme and why did it resonate with you? Why did you want to be part of the scheme?

For me, the main driver was that it was developed at the government level and there was a lot of awareness around it. It was key for me that we were active in the diversity and inclusion space, and this scheme gave me an opportunity to do that. It was a great driver to ensure we do something concrete rather than just having conversations.


How has being Disability Confident made a difference to your business? Which changes do you feel have made the biggest impact for both your organisation and your team?

What it gave us was a structure, a process to follow and steps to focus on, which has been really useful. We know we need to take action in areas that are important to our staff and our people. It means that we focus on doing that. As part of our involvement in the Disability Confident scheme, we have placed a real focus on recruitment, working to ensure our practices are more inclusive of people with disabilities. We identified barriers, made changes to advertising and how we promote vacancies, but more importantly, we changed our internal processes. Transforming our recruitment practices helped us to consider how we support people in our workplace and how we ensure that the people around them better support their colleagues.


What are your next steps with regards to the scheme and your business?

One of the things I am passionate about is for us to see disability as different abilities. I am trying to work at raising awareness of the benefits of having people with different abilities and outlooks. I think that’s crucial. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of supporting this ‘poor group of disadvantaged people’ but it’s important that we highlight the fact that people with different abilities have different strengths. That’s critical in how we bring in people with different skills and ideas -  that’s how we can continually innovate. I want to shine a light on how we bring in people with different ways of working.
 

Why would you recommend the scheme to others?

The scheme is great as it provides some structure and direction, creating drive within organisations. Key milestones are clearly signposted, meaning that they’re easily achievable as it’s clear what you’re working towards. That’s a great starting point for anyone on their journey. 
 

Outside of the Disability Confident scheme, The Telegraph has been highly recognised for making diversity and inclusion a strategic priority. What are some of the initiatives you have put in place to create a truly inclusive culture? 

For us, we are trying to move away from looking at people in boxes and see how we can create a sense of belonging for all our people. It’s important to recruit in a diverse manner and create inclusion for team members. But to really support diverse staff, it's important to create belonging. How can we make sure every single person feels like they belong? To value individuals for their individual skills and not to put them in a box.


In the space of diversity and inclusion, what do you see are the main challenges and opportunities going forward for business?

Businesses need to understand that embedding diversity and inclusion is no longer something that is nice to do or should be a box ticking exercise. As business leaders, we cannot ignore diversity. Diversity is more and more a key element in and around how organisations gain market shares and sell their products. There’s a greater risk now too, if companies get it wrong. If it goes wrong, the stakes are very high and it has had a huge impact on their reputation and profits. Diversity is now a business imperative. 
 
There’s great benefits to the business too in making diversity a core area, including gaining market share, leading in the market and gathering more customers. Every single objective a business works towards can be complemented by diversity. Ten years ago, technology was a sub department in IT. Now it’s a business area in itself. In my eyes, diversity is the same. It’s not simply an HR policy anymore. 
 

What has been your greatest learning or most exciting experience relating to diversity and inclusion?

One of the biggest learnings for me generally has been the fact that you can never judge diversity by what’s presented to you on face value. You need to go beyond race, gender, sexual orientation and disability. You never know what will create a more inclusive environment for a person unless you engage. There is no right, one-size-fits-all approach.


Are there any other comments or is there anything else you would like to share regarding the Disability Confident scheme or diversity and inclusion as a whole?

We need to start reframing disabed as differently abled. No one is disabled, it’s the world around them that disables them. Unfortunately, society is built for certain majorioties. When we look at what the needs are, it is our systems and processes that have hindered them and blocked inclusion in the workplace, it is not the people themselves.


Hear more from Asif in our Disability Inclusion series. Or, contact our friendly team for more information about the scheme, and how our technology can help you support a diverse workforce.

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About the author:
Asif is Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging for The Telegraph. He was formerly the Head of Diversity and Inclusiveness for EY Financial Services and was also previously the Head of the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Unit for the City of London Police. He is a passionate and inspirational global leader, author and key note speaker with the ability to empower individuals and create a truly inclusive environment for all.

Photo of guest blogger Asif Sadiq

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