Why should you attend our Career Development Course?

Business Disability Forum in association with the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh is delighted to be able to offer new career development courses specifically designed for disabled people. The programme will be delivered by highly experienced personal development coach and Business Disability Forum Ambassador, Phil Friend and his non-disabled colleague Dave Rees, a trained expert in neuro linguistic programming.

Read about Jack Whyman Farina’s experience – in his own words – of the programme below:

“I work for RBS in Finance as a Reference Data Manager. We look at the systems and general ledger of the bank and end to end systems to ensure everything is going smoothly. If everything is working you shouldn’t need to know we exist

When it was first suggested to me that I should go on Phil Friend’s career development course for disabled employees I didn’t think I would get much from it, I was quite content and didn’t think there was much for me to learn. It was talking to one of the co-chairs of ENABLE, the staff disability network that changed my mind. If a senior manager like him had found it useful who was I to say no to going? He said the course had given him a greater understanding about other people. Learning more about empathy made him approach situations differently and he felt it gave him an additional string to his bow.

Expectations

I wasn’t 100% sure what I was expecting from the course. I was a little worried that it was going to be a bit too basic. I was content with who I was. I’ve contacted organisations outside RBS for advice such as the Number 6 Autism Initiative charity in Edinburgh where I met someone who helped me to understand my diagnosis of Asperger’s. Basically I didn’t have high expectations of the course.

My biggest fear was that it would all be classroom style learning. At school I found this style of teaching really difficult because I learn in a very interactive and cognitive way. I have dyspraxia as well as Asperger’s so a “copy and paste into your notebook” way of learning really doesn’t work for me. At school, homework that should have taken twenty minutes took me two hours. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Phil and David, his co-trainer, involve everyone from the outset and the whole course is completely interactive.

Challenges

People with Asperger’s stereotypically find empathy difficult and I found this the most challenging part of the course. I was feeling quite content with who I was but I was with individuals, all at different levels within the bank who were at very different stages of their impairment. Some were very raw and upset and others, like me, were happy and content with their lives. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to empathise because I wouldn’t understand their situation. I think the dictionary definition of empathy is very arrogant. How can anyone know how someone else feels?

Jack Whyman Farina - a man looking to his right

Jack Whyman Farina

Revelations

I still don’t believe I know how others feel but the biggest breakthrough for me was learning about the Kubler-Ross Grief Curve on the course. Phil and David showed us a visual bell curve and graph. The Kübler-Ross model talks about the five stages of grief that most people experience when faced with any sort of loss such as a bereavement or relationship breakdown, job loss or acquiring a disability. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

It was a revelation for me and I learned too that I’m different. I go from shock to acceptance skipping the other stages and then move onto how to get on with it. This struck me so hard because they explained by way of an example. If there are going to be redundancies in an organisation, the manager gets told first. They then go through the curve earlier and are ahead of staff who find out later so when their staff are going through denial and anger, the manager might have moved onto acceptance and will want people to get on with it when they are not ready. People need time to go through the curve in their own time. This was huge for me because I don’t go through that curve but I got to see what a neuro typical person would go through. This helped me to see that although I think I’m being constructive and moving forwards, others might need longer to go through stuff in their head.

People on the course were at different stages in their lives. We all learned the same information but everyone took something useful away from it. The course worked for people who had just acquired their impairment through to people like me who had a lifelong condition. That was why it was so impressive

I would 100% recommend this course to other disabled people. I have a mentee who has Asperger’s and I’ve signed him up for the course. He’s probably not as far through the cycle as I am and still feels nervous about his condition. I took so much from that course and for him to be able to get those things that I’ve tried to say to him re-affirmed in a far more eloquent way will really assist him.

Next steps

Since the course I have been promoted from Systems Analyst to Reference Data Manager. That was not all Phil’s doing, I played a part (!) but the course helped me to articulate things I was already confident that I could do. As a Manager I can now cascade what I’ve learned to the team. It’s not about saying things exactly the way Phil did but evolving and taking what was on the course and putting it in my own words. I use stories from my own life to help other individuals with their work and environment.

I was diagnosed quite late when I was 22. I’m only 25 now. The reason I got diagnosed was because of my partner. There were things I didn’t understand about her and that she didn’t understand about me. My diagnosis was an Epiphany. It allowed her and me to do some research and work out how we should go forward and deal with each other. We now have an amazing relationship and hardly ever argue and when we do, it’s very matter of fact and we agree to disagree. That was a huge moment in my life and I feel like this course was the next chapter. It took me from a basic to an intermediate level in my understanding of myself and to the next level of growth.”

Find out more about the Career Development Programme here 

Identity through the lens of disability: Business Disability Forum Film Festival 2019! 

By Ebunola Adenipekun, Business Disability Forum

Anticipation was high before this June’s Business Disability Forum’s Film Festival – and the day didn’t disappoint!

This year the question that would spur the film entrants on was:

“Identity through the lens of disability, what does this mean to you?”

Noeleen Crowley far left, Diane Lightfoot left. Oliver Kent right, Neil Shanlin right and Lucy Ruck. There is also a BSL interpreter

Noeleen Crowley far left, Diane Lightfoot left. Oliver Kent right, Neil Shanlin right and Lucy Ruck

Entrants had 10 days to complete this film challenge and the resulting ones were judged from the world of advertising, film and TV, professional services and disability: Oliver Kent, a former BBC producer, Neil Shanlin, Creative Director/Creative at AMV BBDO, Noeleen Cowley, Partner, Banking Operations and Customers at KPMG and Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum.

Popcorn and candy floss

Popcorn and candy floss

Popcorn and candy floss was consumed in abundance as the winners were announced at this year’s festival hosted by KPMG and prize donors reached far and wide from companies such as Amazon, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Shell, 1stAveMachine and Flare Studios.

Prizes at this year's festival

Prizes at this year’s festival

Our highly commended films were awarded to: ‘Don’t give up’ – Magdalena Stahrova (Unique) and ‘The Only Way’ by Valentina Catenacci, both winning prizes of an Amazon Firestick and £50 Amazon vouchers donated by Amazon.

Highly commended Magdalena Stahrova, a camera man is ataking the photo of her with accompanying guests

Highly commended Magdalena Stahrova (right) with accompanying guests

Third place was awarded to the creators of the film ‘No Guesses Found’, entered by team ELK Medium (Georgie Cubin and Jane Leggat), exploring how dyslexia affects people differently, and highlighting that there is no universal experience of disability. They won two Amazon echo dots, two firesticks, as well as Amazon vouchers donated by Amazon.

Second place was awarded to the team JRZ (John Ford, Ritesh Vara and Zoe Norgrove) who entered with the film ‘Four’. The film explores the world from the perspective of someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). They won three days’ work experience opportunity with Flare Studio, a drone, £50 Amazon vouchers from Amazon and three HD firesticks.

And *drumroll please*…

First place winning entry ‘Same Difference’ was created by Samuel Ash and William Horsefield (also known as team Wolfpack). ‘Same Difference’ is based on their experiences of deafness. They won three days’ work experience with film production company 1stAveMachine, GoPro HERO Action Camera, donated by Shell, drone, as well as £100 Amazon vouchers donated by Enterprise Rent -a- car and £50 Amazon vouchers donated by Amazon.

Winners Samuel Ash (left) and William Horsefield (right) holding their awards, There are film props behind them.

Winners Samuel Ash (left) and William Horsefield (right)

“Now”, “powerful”, “fun” and “human” were some of the words used to describe some of the films on the day.

Neil Shanlin said: “I was impressed with the overall level of work. Every single story was one that was worth telling and I saw respect for me as the viewer. The films were a great representation of what it is to be in Britain today.”

After the films were watched, the crowd enjoyed networking (taking photos alongside the hypersized film props) and delicious canapés, talking about the impact the films had on them. Film Festival goers were also able to enjoy an exhibition of photographic work by Helen Light and Laurie Glees, two students from Morley College, London.

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Film props

The standard of the films continue to grow higher every festival – we really look forward to seeing you next year!

People are talking to each other at Business Disability Forum's Film Festival 2019

Networking at Business Disability Forum’s Film Festival 2019

 

View all the finalists’ films in one place – here!

View our press release here!

To find out more about our events, go to https://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/networking-and-events/

Be part of the inclusion revolution – accessible HR software survey: now open!

Lucy Ruck, Business Disability Forum

Global business leaders are tasked with one universal goal – to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace while driving performance, productivity and efficiency. In the context of an ever-evolving digital business landscape, CEOs are increasingly looking to HR to spearhead the digital transformation process to achieve this goal.  

That’s why many organisations choose to invest in HR software solutions, or as they’re commonly referred to, Talent Management Suites (TM Suites), to engage employees and help them to be more strategic and productive. These tools can be immeasurably useful to seamlessly share information, open up communication, develop employee competencies as well as help HR professionals to plan for, attract and retain a blossoming workforce.

A bird holding the clipboard with the writing that says "Want to be a part of the inclusion revolution?"

Designed to improve workforce engagement, collaboration, and development by allowing staff to complete tasks such as expense reports, performance reviews and setting goals or connecting with new team members as part of the on-boarding process, TM Suites need to address the core assistive technology features that enable all employees to participate in the very best way they can.

What we hope to achieve

Business Disability Forum and Texthelp have seen first-hand the tangible benefits of developing truly accessible applications from the ground-up, and we want to use the survey to create a clear and up-to-date picture of accessibility and the user experience within HR software solutions.  

We will use the findings to develop what we hope will be one of the most informed pieces of research on the topic, helping us to understand how we can meaningfully include everyone in the workforce through HR software solutions with built-in accessibility.  We are also keen to utilise the results to explore how organisations can realise the untapped benefits of prioritising accessibility within HR software to help everyone achieve their full potential.

Survey details

The survey is quick and easy to complete and will help us to further our understanding of the user experience and current accessibility within TM Suites, as well as identify areas of success in terms of accessibility.

We are calling on anyone with experience of TM Suites, either as a user or administrator, to take part in the short survey.

Findings from the survey will be circulated through the Business Disability Forum newsletter and the Texthelp and Business Disability Forum social media channels / websites.

Respondents will remain confidential, however, the opening questions of the survey will aim to determine both the size of the organisation and industry sector that you represent.   If you complete the survey and don’t mind us getting in touch for further information on your responses please provide us with your contact details at the close of the survey.

Support the inclusion revolution by taking our short survey today.  The survey closes at 8am on Tuesday 9th July 2019.  

To complete the survey in a different way email n.branagh@texthelp.com

 

Identity: through the lens of disability, what does that mean to you?

Ebunola Adenipekun, Business Disability Forum

 

 

Following on from the 10 day film challenge Business Disability Forum set earlier in the year: “Identity through the lens of disability, what does that mean to you?” our Film Festival is taking place on Tuesday 18 June 2019 in London, hosted by KPMG, compered by Lucy Ruck, Business Disability Forum, Technology Taskforce Manager

By attending and watching these films, you’ll be gaining insight into today’s students and graduates who represent the future of the workforce and disabled talent.

Take a look as we show you a sneak peek of the finalists’ films you have to look forward to:

Our first film ‘IV’ looks at the role obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety can play in our lives. The team behind the film ‘JRZ’ were highly commended in our 2018 film festival.

JRZ

Our second film ‘No Guesses Found’ gives an insight into the lives of young people with dyslexia and how they navigate the world around them. The team who created the film ‘ELK Medium’ make their directing and production debut at our Film Festival this year. 


ELK Medium


Our third film ‘Same Difference’ is by ‘Wolf Pack’ and profiles the team’s two Deaf film makers and their similarities and differences. Wolf Pack were our winners in 2017 and runners up in 2018, and we’re really excited to see them in 2019!


Wolf Pack
So bring your colleagues and come along to enjoy the festivities over: canapés  drinks including wines, beers and refreshing juices, candy floss and popcorn.

All while watching these amazing films and networking.

This promises to be the best Film Festival yet!

This event is not to be missed! 

Book your place today!

Changing perceptions one project at a time

camden

Ebunola Adenipekun, Business Disability Forum

Costain-Skanska Joint Venture is working with CamdenAbility and Business Disability Forum to improve dialogue between employees with disabilities and managers

CamdenAbility is a collaborative project funded by Camden Council and co-delivered by Cross River Partnership and Business Disability Forum. The project works with businesses throughout the London borough of Camden with a view to improving how organisations attract, recruit and retain people with disabilities. The ultimate aim of the project is to identify employment opportunities for Camden residents with disabilities, impairments and long term conditions.

Costain-Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV) has been working with CamdenAbility for 18 months. CSJV is delivering the High Speed 2 enabling works in and around Euston station through to West Ruislip. It has teamed up with CamdenAbility, jointly headed up by Adrian Ward, Senior Disability Consultant in the Specialist Solutions team at Business Disability Forum and Cross River Partnership’s Specialist Workplace Coordinator Parma Sira, to help find ways to ensure employees were comfortable sharing personal information about their disabilities.

Alice Jennison, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at CSJV shares how working with Business Disability Forum increased participants sharing their information:

“Using the consultancy support available via the project we approached Adrian at Business Disability Forum for some help to increase the number of staff who provide details of their protected characteristics. At the time, 52% of staff had not communicated whether they did or did not have a disability. This made it really difficult for us to understand the needs of our staff, and also know what positive interventions and support should be put in place.

“Adrian offered insight into why staff might not feel comfortable to share their personal information, and produced a communications plan to relaunch our survey. He also provided advice on the best ways to discuss disability, and rephrase the question to be more positive.

“We changed the wording of the questions in line with the Equality Act but also to broaden the scope of what we mean by the term ‘disability’. The rate of preferring not to say went from 52% to 14% in less than a year. The result is that the information we hold about our staff is more accurate now – 9% have told us that they have a disability (it was 1% before the survey).

“Since being involved with the CamdenAbility project people’s perception of being disabled in our organisation has changed. It might have been the visible disabilities people thought about, but at 9%, nearly 1 in 10 people have disabilities in our organisation – and line managers now realise there are people who would benefit from conversations about this.

“This means that we can have a pinpointed dialogue with managers now – to talk about what these disabilities are, how to lead conversations and how we can support our staff.

“The impact of working with Business Disability Forum has been organisation wide – we recently gained Disability Confident Employer status to enable us to tailor support to existing staff, and ensure our recruitment is open to all.

“We look forward to Adrian and Business Disability Forum hosting more events such as the Construction Roundtable hosted in February. It’s vital we work as an industry together to attract the best and brightest talent. Health and safety is obviously an essential element in this – we would love to work further to understand how disabled employees can contribute to our projects as employees.”

To find out more about how CamdenAbility could work for you, go to: https://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/our-services/consultancy-services/camdenability/

 

Understanding how accessibility affects us all

Fara Muneer, The Centre for Accessible Environments

The Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE) is passionate about delivering inclusive environments and a critical part of CAE’s mission is to raise awareness through training, offering consultation to organisations to create the right environment which plays many roles. Firstly, that the right environment is inclusive and comfortable for staff and secondly, will attract and retain customers.

This goes hand in hand with staff training to embed the values of being an inclusive organisation.

The payoff for CAE is seeing the impact first hand of delegates having a wider influence on diversity and accessibility with their newly acquired knowledge and skills.

‘Understanding how accessibility affects us all’ was how one of the delegates summed up her training, which was critical to her role within a leading gallery where she was responsible for visitor experience.  Jo who is a Chartered Ergonomist, recently had this to say about a course she attended: “A brilliant and informative course; including teaching and practical elements so that we could apply what we’d learnt…. the trainers, are extremely knowledgeable and provided lots of real life examples. I am already utilising the knowledge I gained.”

CAE Centre for Accessible Environments logo

Three scenes of training provided by CAE: Left - people looking at a diagram, top right, a man talking, bottom right, a man wearing glasses

Various scenes of training with CAE

CAE deliver both bespoke courses for organisations and in addition offer open courses, last year CAE trained over 400 delegates –  a win for CAE, as these delegates now have a higher level of access knowledge and understanding of the practicalities of access improvements in light of the Equality Act 2010.

One of CAE’s clients is the Government’s housing accelerator who work across regional offices throughout England. As their teams had a variety of roles including staff from office roles to more specialist housing teams CAE delivered a mix of training from half, one and two-day training courses for them on disability awareness to more specialist training.

As their training partners, CAE’s biggest outcome was not only supporting their strategic plan to put equality and diversity at the heart of their work but also the knowledge that CAE’s training will impact the housing needs of more diverse communities.

Although CAE gets a variety of requests for training, courses cover:

To see upcoming dates and to book for any of CAE’s upcoming courses please click here.

Leadership driving change

Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum

On Thursday 25 April, we were delighted to host our annual conference 2019: Disability leading the way.

When we chose this theme, we wanted to reflect the importance of leadership in driving change. But you don’t have to be senior to be a leader and so we also wanted to reflect the importance of leadership not just at senior level but through all levels of the organisation.

Caroline Casey talking to people

Caroline Casey and guests

We support businesses to become “Disability-Smart” via our own Disability Standard which is a whole-organisation accreditation and which reflects our ethos that getting it right for disabled people is not just the domain of HR or D&I but needs a cross business commitment to getting it right. So it’s no surprise that a key area of the Standard – “Know how” is all about the confidence of line managers – in being confident to have a conversation with a disabled employee and to know how to respond to requests for support – including adjustments – and indeed this was a recurring theme in our Great big workplace adjustments survey. It’s also about the confidence of customer facing staff to meet the needs of everyone.

Too often, disability is parked in the “too difficult” or “too sensitive” box – and in too many cases, the fear of getting it wrong means that people don’t do anything as they are so worried about causing offence. This might mean being afraid to ask a disabled colleague what adjustment they might need for a meeting or pretending not to see a disabled customer – something which people with a visual impairment tell us happens all too often.

Welcoming disabled customers guide and a Legoland coaster

Welcoming disabled customers guide

So in March with support from our member Merlin, we launched our new Welcoming disabled customers guide which is full of really practical hints and tips for frontline staff on how to communicate with and provide excellent support to every customer. The spending power of disabled people in the UK is around £249 billion per year and rising. This means that quite apart from being the right thing to do as an ethical retailer, it makes good business sense to provide services, premises and websites that are both accessible and usable for the widest possible group of customers. Businesses who instil the confidence in their people to be disability smart and ask how to best serve all their customers stand to reap considerable business benefits. Yet disabled customers more often than any other experience poor customer service. The Extra Costs Commission 2014 found that three quarters (75%) of disabled people and their families had left a shop or business because of poor disability awareness or understanding. This is entirely unnecessary as often all that is needed is to ask “how can I help?”.

BDF

Attendees at Business Disability Forum Annual Conference 2019, 25 April 2019, hosted by the British Library

And at the conference I was delighted to launch our Meetings matter guide as a really practical tool to make meetings a positive, productive and – dare I say – pleasurable experience for all involved. Millions of meetings take place every day – from work team meetings and organisational away days to stakeholder or client consultations and meetings that can decide the future and the lives of the people affected. For too many disabled people, however, meetings are frustrating experiences in which they can never fully participate because often simple adjustments have not been made by the meeting organiser or chairperson. Adjustments aren’t a “nice to have”; they are absolutely essential for disabled people who might otherwise leave a meeting with incomplete or inaccurate information or simply not be able to attend at all.

Business Disability Forum Meetings matter guide - A guide to hosting inclusive meetings.

Meetings matter guide

As we often say, if you get things right for disabled people, you get them right for everyone. Accessible meetings mean more productive meetings for everyone.

On the stage is the Change in our time? Leaders of today panel with Asif Sadiq ME, Mike Clarke, Caroline Casey, Victoria Cleland, Mike Clarke and Brian Heyworth and a BSL interpreter.

Change in our time? Leaders of today panel with Asif Sadiq ME, Mike Clarke, Caroline Casey, Victoria Cleland, Mike Clarke and Brian Heyworth.

You can also lead by making a difference wherever you work in an organisation and whatever your position in society. One way to show leadership is to speak out and say what other people are often to afraid or embarrassed to talk about and thereby break down barriers and challenge taboos. Our session “breaking down barriers” aimed to shine a light on less understood conditions – and those which are perhaps deemed less socially acceptable to talk about – but which have a real impact on people’s working lives. If you would like more indepth information on specific conditions, take a look at our updated and expanded briefings series – developed in partnership with expert organisations and providing practical guidance on disability as it affects business.

Because this is what we do at Business Disability Forum. We create a safe space to talk to business and for businesses to talk to each other about disability and we enable pragmatic, scalable business solutions.