This is an important year for disability rights. It’s 20 years since the Disability Discrimination Act became law – the first law protecting disabled people against discrimination by employers and service providers.
In those 20 years, a lot of progress has been made towards equality; but there’s still a long way to go. Although employment rates have increased, progress has been patchy and depends on the nature of the disability. We can, as businesses, change this and lead the way towards a genuinely equal society.
“The duty to make reasonable adjustments aims to make sure that, as far as is reasonable, a disabled worker has the same access to everything that is involved in doing and keeping a job as a non-disabled person.” Equality and Human Rights Commission
So where do you start?
Diversity is a high priority at Fujitsu, and something we’re determined to get right. It’s about being a more representative company, a company that’s better in touch with employees and a company that’s better in touch with our customers. But we can only achieve this if we harness the talent of all our people.
Fujitsu’s Disability Employee Network, SEED, focuses on how we support and engage colleagues with a disability, illness or workplace adjustment. Employee Networks like this help in a lot of ways. It provides a focal point for information, shared learning and support. It gives people a place to go for advice and brings people together to share experience and expertise.
That’s a good starting point. From there you can start to educate, raising awareness of disability issues across your business. Just having a policy in place can help people with a disability feel more comfortable, and colleagues more aware of how they could be more inclusive.
“Promote and bring about inclusion and equality for individuals with disabilities or workplace adjustment requirements” – SEED Mission Statement
In the months & years to come, members of SEED will continue working hard to improve the way we do things.
We’re looking at the accessibility of online information; the system used for providing employees with adjustments to help them work more effectively; recruitment strategies around attracting and retaining talent, and we’ve started a series of awareness-raising seminars, available to all employees, covering different illnesses and disabilities (Cancer, Diabetes and Dyslexia so far this year).
We have workshops and activities planned throughout the rest of the year – and the first SEED conference will take place in October focused on ‘Be Completely You’.
Role models are key and help the business to spread awareness and good practice – our first SEED People Manager Role Model has been interviewed and will shortly be publicised.
We are working with the Business Disability Forum on a collaborative plan that drives better guidance and education for employers based on what we’ve learned so far, and we’ll continue learning and improving.
Early next year we plan to host a PurpleSpace Conference on behalf of Kate Nash Associates focused on ‘Renew, Refresh, Reinvigorate’ Employee Networks – a great opportunity for organisations and Networks to come together and share their experience.
What are you doing to make your company a better place to work – for everyone?
To find out more, follow SEED on Twitter – or watch our video on Diversity & Inclusion below.
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