D&I Leaders Disability at Work Summit: Key Learnings

Last week saw a fantastic grouping of the UK’s best and brightest diversity & inclusion minds come together in London to celebrate and build upon the strategies, tech, and talent that has given the D&I agenda a major foothold in the modern workforce. Read on to find out some of the day's most pressing takeaways.

From bluechip company directors to non-profit operations managers, and the people on the ground in between, the variety of attendees and speakers reflected a supportive mindset that has struggled to gain wider recognition until surprisingly recently. 

Luckily, the Texthelp team were in attendance to offer guidance and technological advice for those seeking to offer their staff the daily support to thrive at work. But we were also there to learn, and learn we most certainly did. 

Read on to discover some of the most important and enlightening insights we had the pleasure of discovering at the D&I Leaders Disability at Work Summit 2019.

Put people before process

Many of the sessions and panel discussions revolved around how companies have implemented and continue to build upon their D&I strategies, by focusing on the needs of the individual rather than policy. Even in the opening remarks, we heard from Tim Fallowfield, Chair of Sainsburys’ Disability Confident Business Leaders Group, who said “By removing barriers for those with a disability, inclusion works for everybody.” 

Create a cultural enterprise

Graeme K Whippy MBE, who lead the day’s proceedings, made a salient point when he remarked: “Helping one person might not change the world, but it will change that one person’s world.” And so began a wealth of discussion around starting from a place of empowerment and supporting staff to come together to form Disability Confident groups within organizations. These groups then directly inform policy, procedure, and make it easier for reasonable adjustments to be communicated and accessed by everyone who needs them. Simply put, advocacy from within is powerful when everyone who needs to have a say are empowered to have that say.  

Start from the top

A staggering 70% of disabilities are hidden disabilities, and in the workplace it can be daunting to reveal such personal information. That’s why many leaders, including Loraine Martins of Network Rail, advocated taking a top-down approach to diversity & inclusion. Start at board-level and when there’s senior leadership buy-in, this sentiment cascades down through management, and an environment of acceptance and empowerment can truly develop, benefiting everyone. When those with disabilities aren’t afraid to reveal what they need to succeed, organizations thrive. 

Technology is the way forward

Reassuring, if not unsurprising, technology was a talking point that expressed the need to equip staff with the technology they require to not only do their jobs, but to work productively, independently, and without barriers. With the average cost of reasonable adjustments costing approximately £600, and considering organization’s typically have around 2% of staff with disabilities, technology or tools to support people really are a minor investment with major benefits. 


Despite the different opinions and subjects that came up throughout the day, an inherent message was that people are the most important aspect to consider when building out a diversity & inclusion strategy at work. Put people first - their needs, their emotions, and their adjustments - and you’ll find that they can feel confident to do their jobs and inform policy. This not only helps companies to take a modern approach to disability confidence, but inspires colleagues to speak up and be part of an inclusive workplace that’s welcoming to everyone. 

If you’d like to learn more about how our technology solutions can help make that happen, or how they can fit into your organization’s reasonable adjustments planning, simply get in touch for a free trial!

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