Disability: it’s time for businesses to think big

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By Brendan Roach, Business Disability Forum

Forty-five per cent of the organisations that we support at Business Disability Forum, at a corporate level, are global. Between them, they employ more than 8 million people globally. 

Members and Partners are increasingly telling us that their ambition is to get it right for employees and customers with disabilities wherever they are in world.

Whilst it’s relatively early days, we’re already seeing some brilliant examples of organisations approaching disability as a global business issue.

For example:

  • Accenture have a global disability strategy
  • Shell have developed a global process for making workplace adjustments for employees with disabilities.
  • KPMG has convened a group of disability leads from across its global network in order to share challenges and successful approaches to disability inclusion.
  • Unilever has launched a global disability inclusion programme which includes working with global teams to embed inclusion in to key business areas such as recruitment, IT and facilities.

Thinking big

Our members told us they needed a practical tool to support them to systematically improve their disability performance globally.

We responded by bringing together a Global Taskforce with members of our Partner Group, and working with them to develop that tool: The Global Business Disability Framework.

Launched at the UK government’s Global Disability Summit in July 2018, the Global Framework enables global organisations to measure, and then systematically improve, their corporate approach to disability inclusion.

Our Global Taskforce comprises members of our Partner group, including Atos, Barclays, EY, GlaxoSmithKline, Microlink and Shell (who also provide our co-chair, Georgia Silk).

In developing the Global Framework, we’ve also been grateful for input from companies such as Accenture, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Cummins, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Microsoft and the Royal Bank of Scotland. We also gained invaluable insight from experts in the field such as Stefan Tromel from the International Labour Organisation’s Global Business and Disability Network, Kate Nash, CEO of PurpleSpace and Susan Scott-Parker, CEO of business disability international and, founder and Honorary Vice President of Business Disability Forum.

How does it work?

The Global Business Disability Framework builds on the principles of Business Disability Forum’s Disability Standard management tool. The Disability Standard has been used by our members in the UK since 2005 and has adapted for use in countries as varied as Australia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Global Framework uses a ‘whole organisation’ approach to disability inclusion. In our experience, this kind of approach is essential for an organisation to become truly disability-smart. Leading organisations  understand that disability is just as relevant to customer service and procurement as it is to recruitment and HR.

With this in mind, the Framework enables colleagues with global responsibility to rate their organization’s performance across 10 key business areas, ranging from recruitment to IT.

These areas are measured against four levels of ‘maturity’, from Awareness (Level One) through Embedding (Two), Advancing (Three) and Leading (Four).

Under each level is a specific set of criteria which allows an organisation to make a relatively quick assessment of current performance and identify ways to improve.

Example diagram showing scoring, on a scale of 1 to 4, of 10 features of a business

The Framework will award an organisation an average score based how advanced different areas of the business are

We’re already working with some early adopters and looking forward to seeing how other organisations use the Framework. Based on their experiences, we will evolve the tool and develop more resources.

You can find more information about our Global Taskforce, and the Global Business Disability Framework, on our website.

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