What winning the Senior Disability Champion award meant for Tony Cates, KPMG

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Tony Cates accepted the award for Senior Disability Champion remotely

By Sam Buckley, Business Disability Forum

We run our Disability-Smart Awards to show what organisations can achieve by becoming disability-smart—welcoming the biggest possible group of customers and employees and creating a welcoming, open and supportive place to work.

One of our most important awards is for Senior Disability Champion, recognising leaders who act as a powerful voice for disability inclusion in their organisations.

Last year, our award for Senior Disability Champion went to Tony Cates, UK Partner at KPMG.

Tony set out to change the way businesses work with disabled people across the UK and beyond, following a simple mission statement: “Empowering people with disabilities to be the best they can be is the right thing to do.”

Reflecting a year on from receiving his Award, Tony said:

“Since winning the BDF Award last year, KPMG have been involved in some exciting activities in relation to disability and mental health. I am the board level sponsor for disability and mental health at KPMG – and have been championing this agenda for a number of years. Something I have observed over this time is that there is still a real lack of visibility and representation of both disability and mental health at board level.

“Everyone has their own story or perspective on how disability and mental health issues are present in their lives. Personally, having hearing loss on one side has made me acutely aware not only of the challenges a disability or health issue may present, but also of the additional skills and capabilities that can be developed in response to these challenges.”

“We want KPMG to be a magnet for all talent. That means accessing the widest possible talent pool, which we will only achieve if we treat inclusion and diversity as a board level issue.

Tony’s work has included sponsoring support networks for disability and mental health and also sharing expertise with companies that KPMG works with across the UK. Colleagues have said that Tony “is known not just internally at KPMG, but he is an executive disability champion who is recognised elsewhere across multiple sectors.”

This leadership has seen KPMG gain one of the highest scores in Business Disability Forum’s Disability Standard, an internationally used tool measuring organisation’s commitment to disabled people, in 2017.

KPMG gained a Silver status, the second highest certification under the assessment, with Tony Cates’ leadership cited as a key driver of the achievement.

Tony was also instrumental in KPMG gaining the highest-level of accreditation in the government’s Disability Confident scheme, becoming one of the first organisations to do this since Disability Confident was launched last year.

“I set up a Disability Steering Group that looks at disability and mental health holistically, with heads of all key parts of the business represented and reporting in to me. In fact the steering group was set up following our Silver award on the Disability Standard in July 2017, with the aim to make improvements across the firm. Business Disability Forum have helped us to set out our action plan. They also provide us with great support and consultation from our BDF Consultant, Brendan Roach. We also took part in the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index, and were awarded Silver, something we are very proud of but keen to push forward and improve upon.”

Want to put your organisation forward for an award, or celebrate a champion of disability? You can enter our Disability-Smart Awards online now. You can find out more by clicking here.

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