That was just one of the questions that we posed to an audience of senior disability champions, allies and executive sponsors at a business breakfast kindly hosted by Fujitsu on 21 June. Our guests represented organisations including: BAE, BAML, EY, PwC, HM Treasury and Ministry of Defence.
- The role of ‘champion’ can be a lonely place
- Champions are looking for practical proposals about where to focus attention
- How do senior champions/exec sponsors know they are focusing on the right things?
- Where do champions go for an informal, confidential ‘sense check’ or executive coaching?
- Is the time right to promote the broader concept of ‘ally’?
- The third key element between a strong and progressive employee resource group or network and champion is a clearly defined and measurable strategy.
- It can feel overwhelming knowing which element of a diversity and inclusion agenda to sponsor. Pick just one that speaks to you personally e.g. mental health and ask your network to lend their expertise to the campaign or change programme.
- Being a disability champion or ally undoubtedly develops leadership skills but reporting structures and informal job description sometimes make it more difficult for performance and achievement to be formally recognised.
- Many champions feel embarrassed and lacking in confidence when first in their role. It’s important to build a relationship with your disability network. They have the deepest understanding of what it is like to live with their disabilities and want to help others to understand the real life experience.
- In some organisations it is allies rather than disabled employees or networks (those with the lived experience) who being to drive the diversity and inclusion agenda. The allies need help in creating the networks and resources groups with the expertise to help them to deliver meaningful disability change programme.
- The most successful campaigns or change programmes have adopted a visual symbol to show belonging and support. This is helped by a growing use of purple symbolism to denote 'disability' in the way that rainbow colours are instantly recognisable as a symbol of the LGBT community. Whether you choose a ‘purple’ lanyard, flag, pens or posters just get your symbol out there and curious colleagues and customers will want to know more.
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