Embrace technology for an inclusive future, employers agree at Business Disability Forum summit

The future is already here and businesses must embrace technology so that changes include rather than exclude.

This was a key message to employers at Business Disability Forum’s ‘Disability in the Modern Workplace’ event held in London with the support of HSBC yesterday (18 April).

Fiona Daniel, Head of Diversity & Inclusion UK at HSBC, speaking at the event, said that organisations needed to be committed to upgrading and adapting every day in order to meet the diversity challenges of the future.

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As well as diversity leaders from HSBC, leading figures from companies such as Microsoft, Royal Bank of Scotland, Accenture, Shell, GlaxoSmithKline, Phil & Friends, PurpleSpace, Genius Within, Manchester Metropolitan University, the Office For National Statistics and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office joined Business Disability Forum experts to look at challenges and opportunities posed by globalisation, automation and disruptive technology.

Mark McLane, Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Barclays, urged organisations to embrace technology and the idea that “a solution for one can be a solution for many.”

Sarah Newton MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, called on businesses to become more disability confident as she opened the event.

Sarah Newton MP said:

“While there are record levels of people in employment, we want to see more disabled people thrive in the workplace. The UK is a world leader in innovative technologies, and we’re committed to ensuring that disabled people can benefit from these advances too.

“That’s why we’ve increased our Access to Work grant by up to £57,200 a year per person to help pay for assistive technology and specialist equipment so that disabled people can fulfil their true potential in the workplace.”

Also at the conference, Business Disability Forum launched its updated range of guidance on different disabilities and long-term conditions in response to the continuing evolution of best practice in the workplace and the wider business world.

Two new guides, with a further seven updated guides, were launched at the conference, as part of the continuous release of a full catalogue covering a wide range of different impairments, using expertise from disabled people, disabled people’s organisations and business experts.


Fiona Daniel, Head of Diversity & Inclusion UK at HSBC, said:

“We are very happy to support the timely release of this guidance for businesses. A lot is changing in the business and diversity worlds at present, which means there is more of a need than ever for a universal code of good practice.

“Given the new openness in the way we approach our mental health it is particularly timely that Business Disability Forum has chosen to release new guidance for employers around stress, anxiety and depression which will be of particular use to employers hoping to create a diverse and inclusive workplace.

“We chose to support Business Disability Forum’s ‘Disability in the modern workplace’ event because we felt it was the right time for employers to look to the future and meet its challenges in a well-informed and intelligent way. For the same reason we hope to see many organisations making use of this new guidance so that bar for best practice stays as high as it does today even as the business landscape changes.”

Diane Lightfoot, Chief Executive Officer at Business Disability Forum, said:

“It was very encouraging to see so many passionate people from the worlds of business, disability, government and more come together to look to an inclusive future.

“We are especially grateful to HSBC for their invaluable support in making this event happen and keeping the conversations around disability and good practice vibrant and productive.

“In particular, this event marked the beginning of our major new programme of guidance and information on various disabilities. We think this is the time for employers to look to best practice and we believe that our guides will help them to do this.”

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