Is your organisation Disability Confident?

Is your organisation Disability Confident?

Yvonne O’Hara studied the  CIPR Diploma in Public Relations with us and has gone on to get involved as a marker for the  CIPR Internal Communications Certificate and Diploma. She leads on Disability Confident, the Department for Work and Pensions campaign to encourage employers to employ disabled people. Here she talks about the campaign and how communications professionals like you can get involved......

Yvonne O'Hara

"Disability Confident is an employer campaign which encourages businesses to employ disabled people, tackle negative attitudes to disability and disability employment and support disabled people to achieve their potential. The campaign came into being as government needed to address the issue of disabled people wanting to work and not being able to find work. The facts are clear: 12.2 million people in the U.K. have a disability, 1/3 of disabled people who are not in work would like to work and there is a 30% gap between disabled and non-disabled people in work.

The purpose of the campaign is to target those who can make the biggest difference to the lives of disabled people. Employers through their recruitment and work experience programmes play a fundamental role in changing the outcomes for disabled people in work. The campaign also has a strong economic driver. Organisations who fail to employ disabled people are not maximising their spending power: the purple pound, or the annual amount spent by disabled people in the economy comes to a staggering £212 billion annually.
Launched in 2013, the campaign is partnership marketing in practice. My team work with our partners to identify the communications opportunities for collaboration, whether that’s taking part in an event, tweeting from #disabilityconfident about good practice or publicising case studies of organisations who are proud to be Disability Confident. This is not a big budget marketing campaign but that doesn’t stop us from being ambitious about its potential and reach.
For year two of the campaign, Disability Confident needs to be louder, bigger and achieve more outcomes for disabled people. I want to share the excellent work of Disability Confident partners from employing more disabled people or changing working practices to make the transition to work easier for disabled people. There are some brilliant examples out there. For example KPMG ensure that every new building is vetted by a group of disabled staff to ensure that it is 100% accessible before opening their doors. All Sainsburys line managers have completed unconscious bias training over the last year. I’m asking existing partners to think about mentoring smaller organisations, such as those in their supply chain, so they can learn from their good practice and become Disability Confident.
External influencers who have the opportunities to spread the word far and wide about Disability Confident are also a key part of this year’s campaign. MPs are running Disability Confident events in their constituencies, pairing local employers with local disabled jobseekers. The first of these events took place in Gloucester in November hosted by MP Richard Graham. He created an event with inspirational speakers such as Andy Rickell, CEO of Action on Disability and Work UK who spoke about a career campaigning for disabled people’s rights and how his disabilities don’t deter him from achieving his goals. Bob Fenton of EDF shared the outcomes of an innovative programme called ‘Steps into Work’ which paired seven disabled students with EDF job placements. Four of the seven students went on to full time roles at EDF and they are now rolling out the second year of the programme.
I want to sign up new partners to the campaign and that’s where PR Academy alumni come in. Communications professionals are a vital gateway to key influencers in an organisation from CEOs to Heads of HR. If you think your organisation could be Disability Confident or would like to get some advice on support about where to start on your Disability Confident journey please get in touch with us at:"

Thanks Yvonne!

Find out more,  join the conversation at #DisabilityConfident, join the Disability Confident LinkedIn group

Yvonne also recommends learning more via the  CIPR Diversity Working Group