Breaking down barriers in the workplace
Of course, there are still many barriers which organisations of all sizes need to consider.
On the topic of toilets, it’d be great to see other organisations roll out Changing Places facilities. As part of my job, I sometimes work with other organisations so we can support each other. It’d be fantastic to know that if I visit their offices, that there is a facility there which is inclusive of me.
There are many other ways organisations can make their workplaces better for all colleagues, not just those with disabilities; improved contemplation spaces, neurodiverse friendly environments, better evacuation options, etc. I think innovative ideas like a lending library for ergonomic equipment would be good in a hybrid world.
Overall, I think workplaces in the UK are getting better. There is more awareness and desire to put inclusion at the heart of what people want to do. But it could be faster.
My advice to organisations is to pause when a business decision is being made to think about customers and colleagues with accessibility needs. Something which I always say is, adjustments are a reaction to non-inclusive design.
If we designed inclusively from the beginning then we’d save a lot of difficulty later in the process.
Advice for people with disabilities who are looking for a job
If you’ve a disability and are looking for a job, I'd start by looking for organisations that talk positively about disability and inclusion. Nowadays with LinkedIn, it's really easy to see which organisations are doing good things. Then I’d speak to people in that organisation to make sure that the walk is as good as the talk.
When applying for a job, a lot of people feel uncomfortable about sharing their needs but they’re almost setting themselves up for failure. If you don’t tell someone that you need an adjustment for the interview, you won’t have the opportunity to perform at your best. My advice is to get comfortable talking specifically about your disability and what you need from them in order to give you the best opportunity to shine.
Large businesses, like Lloyds Banking Group, are more likely to have the resources available to make the adjustments you might need and be inclusive of how you’d like to work. That’s not to say that these traits are exclusive to large organisations, many smaller employers also do a terrific job when it comes to supporting disabled colleagues.
When you get the job; communicate your needs, trust your manager and use the workplace adjustment passport tool to have rich conversations as part of your 121’s.