Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is PurpleSpace?

PurpleSpace is the UK’s only learning, networking and professional development hub for disabled employees, employee network leaders and allies from all sectors and trades. The one thing we have in common is that we want to learn about and share ways of supporting disabled employees to be our best selves at work. Visit the About Us section to find out more.

2. What are Disabled Employee Networks (DEN) or Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s)?

Different organisations use different words to describe these groups. Employee networks or Employee Resource Groups are traditionally created by under-represented groups in the workplace and can be focussed around issues, of race, gender, sexuality, disability, religion. DEN’s or ERG’s provide members with peer support on issues relating to disability at work, network and career development opportunities and sometimes opportunities to act as expert advisors to the business. Some of the network leaders involved in PurpleSpace will tell you a whole lot more about the benefits of being involved in DEN’s or ERG’s.

3. Why purple?

During 2013 we started to notice the use of the concept of the ‘purple pound’. In a BBC Ouch news feature in January 2014 it was highlighted how the colour purple is increasingly being used by campaigners and the government to refer to the spending power of disabled people. And while the reporter could not find any meaningful or symbolic significance to the colour purple the article was a helpful reminder that lots of ‘movements’ adopt a colour and often that colour has significance to the particular cause. Grey (or sometimes silver) describes the hair colour of older people and pink has been ironically adopted by the LGBT community. As we started to plan our online hub in early 2015 we noticed more and more disability related organisations using purple: Scope, Remploy, Disability Rights UK, Papworth Trust and we decided to tag along and contribute to building the purple symbolism increasingly associated with the disability movement.

4. What is #ourdisabilityconfidence all about?

In short #ourdisabilityconfidence is a hashtag that we have adopted as confident, career focussed disabled employees who successfully manage our disabilities or health conditions at work. We use it on this website and social media whenever we share tips or stories from disabled employees to describe their success at work. If you have hints or tips about being a successful disabled person at work do include #ourdisabilityconfidence whenever you use social media. For a bit more background into why we chose the term have a read of a blog we wrote called Talking about #ourdisabilityconfidence.

5. Are we disabled employees or employees with disabilities?

This is a very big question which is hard to provide a short answer to. The majority of people involved in PurpleSpace believe in the concept often referred to as the Social Model of disability. In a nutshell this says that disability is caused by the fact that society often excludes disabled people from full economic, social and cultural lives due to both physical barriers and ‘disabling’ attitudes. In relation to work, these barriers could be lack of physical access to an office building, a recruitment process which is not accessible to disabled people or negative or ill-informed attitudes of colleagues which may prevent career development opportunities. Therefore we feel that the term ‘disabled employees’ describes the experience of many of the people involved in PurpleSpace. For a more detailed explanation of the social model of disability visit Scope’s website.

6. Who is PurpleSpace for?

PurpleSpace is primarily aimed at leaders of DEN’s or ERG’s as well as disabled employees who may or may not be part of those networks. But if you are interested in advancing issues around the career advancement of disabled people and raising the profile of disability as a core business issue then you will find PurpleSpace useful.

7. What type of organisation has a DEN or ERG

You might be surprised at the diverse range of organisations that we work with but network leaders could come from: a police force in Cumbria, a local authority in Wales, a construction company in Glasgow, an Investment Bank in Canary Wharf, a hospital trust in Cornwall, an IT provider in Bracknell, a Government department in Whitehall, a university in Kent or a city law firm in Chancery Lane

8. I'm a young disabled person still in education, can PurpleSpace help me?

While we hope that some of the tips and guidance on PurpleSpace will give you some ideas of how to manage your disability as you go through college, university and into work, PurpleSpace cannot connect job seekers and our members.

In phase two we’re going to build more resources to help individual disabled people at work but until then you might want to connect to the following organisations: Remploy, Equal Approach and Diversity Jobs.

9. I am currently unemployed. Does PurpleSpace have anything to offer me?

When we came up with the idea for PurpleSpace we knew that we had to offer something new which was not already being done by anyone else. We are very supportive of the many organisations who support disabled people into work and you can find details of some of these organisations in our useful links section. So although we can’t provide you with direct advice we hope that by reading our blogs and listening to the stories of disabled people who have overcome the challenges of getting into work this may help you in thinking how possible it is to seek and secure work. And to stay in work and succeed in your career. If you are a student or a graduate with a disability you might want to take a look at the website Great With Disability.

10. I have a health condition/disability but I have not told my employer or spoken about it at work. Should I join PurpleSpace?

Yes absolutely. As a supporter, you will find yourself amongst a group of like minded people, many of us have thought long and hard about whether to share information about our disabilities or health conditions and some of us are still deciding. You can start off by reading and watching some of our blogs. You might be interested in the book ‘Secrets & Big News’ which discusses the challenges of disability and disclosure in the workplace based on the views of over 2,500 disabled employees. Find out more about becoming a PurpleSpace supporter.

11. I’m an employer can I join PurpleSpace?

We would love you as a PurplePlus partner. Mostly we concentrate on delivering the enabling products that help employee network leaders. However as an employer you can still connect with our work. If your organisation is not already a member of Business Disability Forum (BDF) then we recommend you explore this option. BDF helps disability-smart organisations to improve business performance by increasing confidence, accessibility, productivity and profitability by providing sharing expertise, giving advice, providing training and facilitating networking opportunities. We work very closely with them. BDF recognise the value that DEN’s and ERG’s can bring to building disability-smart organisations but they don’t specialise in supporting employee networks. Visit the Business Disability Forum website.

12. Finally

We wanted to let you know about one of our great supporters Really Useful Stuff. Take a look at their website which sells great products for people who have a disability. Visit the Really Useful Stuff website.