Disability is getting a little bit trendy! In the media and sport we’re seeing more disabled talent. In politics theres initiatives for more disabled representatives. In business the $7 trillion global disability market is garnering big business attention.
Its been amazing to see people like Richard Branson discuss the economic benefits of inclusion. Not to ignore disability featuring at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Here’s my interview with the amazing Dr Caroline Casey on the #valuable campaign.
So with clear benefits of inclusion, why are disabled people seeing higher unemployment rates than non disabled people?
When I started looking for work I was finishing my Masters in Marketing. I started looking for finance jobs, as my first degree had been in Economics. Despite amazing educational achievements, I struggled to get an interview. Maybe it was related to my disability. Maybe not.
After a while I widened my search. I just needed a first job. To learn the ropes, get experience, and build from there. My step mum Kate luckily saw an advert in my hometown for an admin role. This was the turning point.
It was for the disability charity Scope. Who are experts in employment services, and are coincidentally running a campaign which this post is supporting 🙂
In seeking disabled talent, Scope eased my nerves and apprehension of further job seeking rejection. I felt empowered and confident. I sailed through the application, 2 interviews, and started straight after leaving uni.
Naturally, this didn’t mean everything was set from day 1. Being a wheelchair user, I needed some assistance from the car park to my desk. I needed some support with filing and photocopying. With going to the toilet.
My line manager was brilliant at going through these needs, finding immediate solutions, and setting in motion answers to trickier barriers.
The Equalities Act 2010 covers disabled people from discrimination, within the constraints of reasonable adjustments. To read more about this in the workplace, this resource is invaluable.
For me this meant applying for Access to Work funding. Scope fortunately knew about this, but if your employer doesn’t you can read more here. As a result I received funding for assistive technology, for a PA, and if my car broke they would cover taxis too.
In overcoming the all too familiar barriers to the physical environment, people’s attitudes, and organisational policies; I was able to shine.
I enjoyed that role so much and enjoyed career development opportunities at the London head office. My dream was to live and work in London. So eventually I received a transfer and hit the big smoke.
After working hard I ended up being a trainer and product development executive in fundraising. I travelled the country, met service managers, created fundraising products and supported the fundraising team.
Five years after starting, I left to pursue my other dreams of entrepreneurship and travel. I’m now an influencer, consultant, CEO/Co Founder of Disability Horizons, a global speaker and inclusion activist.
Imagine if Scope never looked for disabled talent. Imagine if the office wasn’t accessible. Imagine if Access to Work didn’t fund my reasonable adjustments. Imagine if I’d never been encouraged to grow.
Barriers are everywhere. Solutions are too. I didn’t take the path I wanted to post university. But in the end I’m living my passion and purpose. It just took time, patience, resilience and unwavering belief in my vision of an inclusive world.
This post is in conjunction with the disability equality charity Scope but all thoughts are my own
– World Changer @ martynsibley.com.
– Author @ ‘Everything is Possible’ (on Amazon).
– Inclusion Captain @ disabilityhorizons.com.
– Presenter and Speaker @ visablepeople.com.
– Adviser @ Governments/Businesses/Charities.