As you’ve probably seen, we at Fujitsu have been working for quite some time to foster a culture that positively manifests diversity in the workplace. As part of this, we want everyone to feel accepted, nurtured and like they have an equal place within the organisation – because that’s how talent thrives and succeeds.
We’ve made good headway with this, especially with partners such as Autistica who’ve supported us in the curating a better work environment for our neurodiverse employees.
However, there’s more that can be done, which is why we’ve also partnered with Diversity and Ability – a social enterprise which supports organisations in creating an inclusive culture. With them, we aim to build a more anticipatory approach to inclusivity, which will see the roll out of new initiatives for improving the workplace.
In the first of this series, Fujitsu’s Simon Head and Adam Hyland from Diversity and Ability (D&A) sit down with me to discuss what inspired them to work together, the current landscape for disabled employees and how the work they’re doing together can help shape a more inclusive framework for businesses going forward.
Simon, why did Fujitsu decide to build this relationship with the folks at Diversity and Ability?
Simon: We were looking for an organisation with not only a passion for diversity and inclusion, but also with the technical knowledge and experience to support our diverse range of employees. Because, while we like to think we’re doing a fantastic job, we knew we still had a way to go.
With the help of Adam and his team at D&A, we’re striving to offer as broad a variety of effective adjustments and solutions that will be ready for new employees from day one. There’s no need for workplace assessments or a taxing process for employees to go through, the support is offered quickly and to all those who need it. By bringing down those usual barriers, everyone has a chance to perform at their best from the get-go.
We’re not trying to diagnose conditions, or look for anything medically defined, we just want to listen to our employee’s and provide them with what they need. The extensive experience that Adam and his team bring to the table allows us to be pragmatic in our approach and challenge ourselves as a business to find those really small tweaks that can make a massive difference to employees’ work lives.
The passion and drive Adam brings to this initiative not only helps drive its success (as is evident from the plethora of positive feedback we’ve received) but also in just making the experience a sincerely enjoyable one.
Adam, could you tell us a bit more about your social enterprise, Diversity and Ability, and the role it plays within organisations?
Adam: D&A is a disabled-person-led organisation that has been going for 10 years now. By disabled-person-led, I mean our lived experience is at the heart of all the services, consultancy, and support initiatives we develop. It’s not about what we think disabled people need, it’s about what we know disabled people need from our lived experiences – this is the fundamental reason why D&A provides the services it does.
We support people one-to-one, whether that’s in the workplace, education, or to support organisations improve their disability inclusion agenda. I think if we’re all honest, disability often gets left off a lot of the wider D&I work that organisations do. But you could argue that its actually one of the most intersectional diversity strands there is, as everyone can face barriers at different times in their lives for numerous reasons.
For instance, if someone falls down, breaks their ankle and needs a wheelchair, for that period, they’ll need their surroundings to be accessible too. So, it’s important we push organisations to make sure disability inclusion is part of their overall D&I focus. Our goal is to create environments where so-called disabilities aren’t seen as a deficit but as a positive attribute to the organisation.
For instance, if we look at Fujitsu’s industry, tech, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that two of the most prominent figures in the past 20 years – Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – were both neurodiverse individuals. Nor do I think it’s a coincidence that they both held off on revealing that fact until they’d made it. That says a lot about the importance of an inclusive culture, and the work D&A does with companies.
The final objective of D&A is to fund social justice projects. The work we do across workplaces and the education sector helps fund support for people across the UK and in the Global South who otherwise wouldn’t have affordable access. So, that’s D&A – we’re just trying to make impactful and meaningful changes throughout society.
In the next piece of this series, Simon and Adam discuss what it’s like for disabled individuals in the workplace currently and the impact creating an ‘anticipatory approach’ to inclusivity can benefit everyone in an organisation.