Eliminating Disability Discrimination: Celebrating Disabled People through The Big Purple Light-Up

Eliminating Disability Discrimination

On 3rd December 2018 International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD) was celebrated. IDPD was established by the UN in 1992 to recognise the contribution of disabled people. The theme for this year’s IDPD was “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. Workplaces have a key part to play in removing barriers and enabling equal participation for disabled staff to thrive. It goes beyond being complaint with the law, to actively creating positive systems. 

Disability Statistics

  • Globally 1 in 7 people are thought to have a disability.
  • In the UK there are c. 7 million people of working age who are disabled.
  • UK Government figures suggest that disabled people make up 12.9% of the public sector workforce and 11% of the private sector.
  • The purple pound, aka spending power of disabled people in the UK is valued at £249 billion to the economy.

These figures demonstrate there is a legal case, moral case and business case to supporting disability in the workplace.

Purple Space and Purple Light Up

You may also have noticed this year that the Channel 4 news studio was bathed in a vibrant purple light. We also saw Krishnan Guru-Murthy signing parts of the news. Even the Prime Minister was wearing a purple dress on that painful interview on This Morning.  Why the Purple Light Up? This is down to the wonderful work of Purple Space.

Purple Space is world’s only professional development hub for disability network leaders. The aim of Purple Space is to make it easier for employees to navigate the experience of ill health, disability or the experience of an accident or injury, so they can flourish at work. The idea behind the #PurpleLightUp is to bring people from all over the UK to say disabled people are here, proud and it showcases the value disabled make to all organisations and countries.

So, why the colour purple? Recently, the colour purple has increasingly been associated with disability and the truth is no one really knows why this colour was chosen.  Purple Space have  made a short film about ‘The story of purple’ which you can watch below. 

What can you do beyond IDPD to ensure the participation of disabled people at work?

  1. Never assume what disabled staff need or want You will need to ask what is helpful and how someone prefers to work. A one size fits all approach, doesn’t work. You need robust procedures in place, but with training and support for line managers to implement these effectively.
  2. Challenge normative policy. Policies more often than not are written from a particular perspective. On the whole that tends to be a non-disabled perspective. Ask your disabled staff network,colleagues, staff, and customers for input to get an improved policy that is fit-for-purpose and adaptable.  
  3. Ensure a timely process for workplace adjustments. Once a disabled staff member tells you about the adjustment(s) required, they will need to be implemented within two weeks. There is nothing more demoralising than not having the equipment and recommendations put in place in a timely fashion. Adjustments are not usually expensive or time consuming, especially when you consider the increased productivity and outputs from the staff member.
  4. Demonstrate you want to learn as an organisation. Arranging training and development opportunities for your teams. I have seen organisations really struggle with this making disability support much more complicated than it needs to be. An interactive, engaging training session will mean there is disability literacy in place. It also removes the fears and misconceptions.  
  5. Join the Disability Confident Campaign. Disability Confident is a scheme that is designed to help employers recruit and retain disabled people and people with health conditions for their skills and talent. There are three levels committed, employer and leader.  Find out more about Disability Confident
  6. Sign up to Purple Space. Purple Space help organisations across all industries and sectors to create Disability Employee Networks and / or Resource Groups. They then help each network to build engagement strategies to stimulate better conversations about all aspects of disability and business with their internal allies, champions and executive sponsors. Find out more about Purple Space here.

We can’t know everything. You can find out about Diverse Minds training here to help you be the best employer you can be.  

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