Over the past 15 years, I have become recognised as an expert on matters relating to disability in business and a well-known agent of change in the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace and society.
My journey to becoming a disability consultant started in the early 1980s when I helped set up and run the Computing Centre for People with Disabilities at the University of Westminster. This gave me early exposure to the nascent field of Assistive Technology, teaching blind people to use computers and developing innovative software solutions such as a talking statistics package for the BBC Micro.
IT Accessibility expert
I then followed an IT career until the early 2000s when, as a senior manager at Lloyds TSB, I embarked upon a campaign to embed best practice in IT Accessibility within my own organisation and beyond via the Employers Forum on Disability (now Business Disability Forum).
My achievements in doing this were recognised with an award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual at the Financial Sector Technology awards in 2009.
I was also invited to be a member of the drafting committee of BS 8878, a British Standard in web accessibility and was the author of the standard’s procurement annex.
Workplace Adjustments expert
In 2010 I was invited by the Executive Sponsor for Disability to build the Group Disability Programme. This pan-business initiative resulted in Lloyds Banking Group achieving exemplary status as an employer and service provider for disabled people with a Gold ranking in the Business Disability Forum's Disability Standard 2012 and 2014.
In this role I became best known for creating a paradigm shift in the way organisations view and make workplace adjustments for employees by designing, implementing and running a new workplace adjustments process for disabled employees which:
- Moved away from legal compliance and focused on performance and productivity.
- Democratised adjustments by providing them for anyone who had a genuine need without having to prove they were disabled.
- Provided a centrally managed and funded 'one stop shop' for all adjustments, removing the onus from the line manager to drive and fund adjustments.
- Over 30,000 colleagues used the process in the period 2010-2016
- 83% reduction in average case duration (down to 16 days)
- 98% colleagues using the process were satisfied or very satisfied
- 85% of line managers reported a 'significant' improvement in colleague performance
- 91% reduction in sickness absence (based on a sample of 800 colleagues 12 months before receiving adjustments and 12 months after).
The process has won several awards, including:
- European Disability Matters Workplace Award 2007
- BDF Disability Smart Award for Adjustments 2015, 2016, 2017
- Technology 4 Good Award 2012
Over the period 2013-2016, I represented the banking sector on the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge and also led a cross-industry working group in the creation of the Dementia Friendly Financial Services Charter, first of its kind and a template for similar initiatives.
In May 2016 I left Lloyds to become an independent disability consultant. My current clients include:
- Channel 4 - Disability Workplace Specialist
- Open Inclusion - Workplace Inclusion Specialist
I have also worked extensively with the Business Disability Forum and others to share best practice and, in particular, help embed the model of workplace adjustments I developed at Lloyds in other organisations.
I am a member of Purple Space, linking me in with the fastest growing community of disabled employees in the UK (visit the Purple Space website).
I was awarded an MBE in 2016 for my services to people with disabilities and dementia.