It's the day after #PurpleLightUp 2018 and we are reflecting on the phenomenon that happened over the last few days.
The idea for #PurpleLightUp came from us listening to our disabled employee networks / resource groups and the many disabled employees, allies and champions who work in our membership of public and private sector organisations in the UK and globally. It is an authentically-led movement of employees and allies.
PurpleSpace works directly with disabled employee networks within many of the organisations who took part in #PurpleLightUp, and it is those employees who are helping their employers to improve disability confidence.
Our network / resource group leaders were telling us three things:
- Disabled employees want to tell the world in their own voices what it feels like to get on and thrive at work – far too often the subject of disability is about “deficit” or “welfare reform” or about “getting people into work” but we know that there are many of us who are in work, and thriving and its time we stepped up to share our stories of success – for ourselves, for each other, for our colleagues, for our future selves.
- They want, as part of their work, to celebrate the contribution of disabled people to society. In the UK, Government figures suggest that disabled people make up 12.9% of the public sector workforce and 11% of the private sector. That story is usually untold and as a nation we would do better to focus on our worth and contribution, rather than just our cost.
- They want to help to help create a global community of disabled people and allies, through the power of social media. And as a mark of respect to the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the 3rd December was chosen as the day to have a unified focal point for activities to improve organisational and individual confidence.
The response from employers and the public, across the world, has been phenomenal.
On social media alone #PurpleLightUp featured in 17,000 tweets.
Employer organisations, buildings and individuals across the world took part including: CN Tower, Bank of England, Heathrow & Edinburgh Airport, Network Rail, 31 Canadian government buildings, City of Cork, Channel 4, PwC, Microsoft, the Ministry of Defence as well as some police forces and NHS Trusts.
We also could not have done it without the support of amazing #PurpleLightUp Ambassadors and campaign partners KPMG, PwC UK, Isobel Creative, Concept Initiatives and #AXSChat.
Navigating life, including life at work, is not always easy as a disabled person and part of the campaign message is to acknowledge the need to build resilience. We know from our members that one way to do this is by becoming part of a community of people who have shared experiences.
We are listening to all the feedback we are receiving: it seems that the time is right for us to drive this movement forward as a community of disabled people and our allies. If you would like to offer feedback then do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#PurpleLightUp will not resonate with everyone and we respect the views of others who feel greater need for disabled-led action, rather than the mark of solidarity that comes from allies. We believe we need both to drive meaningful change.
Over the next few weeks we'll be reflecting on the impact that #PurpleLightUp has made, deciding on next steps and sharing our recommendations next year.
Meanwhile if you believe there is merit in celebrating the economic contribution of disabled people follow and talk to us on Twitter @PurpleLightUp.
If you’re a disabled employee who wants to help your employer organisation to build disability confidence from the inside out then email us at email@example.com.
Finally, thank you again for making #PurpleLightUp 2018 #BiggerBolderBrighter.
Kate Nash OBE
CEO and Founder, PurpleSpace
1. PurpleSpace is a small social business with a big mission: "To make it easier for employees to navigate the experience of ill health, disability or the experience of an accident or injury, at the same time as flourishing at work."
We do this in three ways:
- By creating the world’s first professional development and best practice exchange for disability employee network and / or resource group leaders, allies & champions
- By supporting employee network and resource group leaders to build vibrant disability networks that help colleagues to bring their authentic selves to work
- By helping employers to improve business performance by learning directly from disabled employees
2. #PurpleLightUp is an idea; a free movement that has captured the hearts and minds of disabled people in and not in employment, line managers and colleagues, business leaders and champions, as well as our families, friends and the general public. They come from the business sector, the public sector, charities, schools, universities, police forces, government bodies, and small private firms. What #PurpleLightUp has done is bring together a community of people during 3rd December to say - we are here and proud of what we contribute / you are here and we see the value you bring to our organisation. Together we want to celebrate the contribution of disabled people, increase the pace by which we build inclusive practice and build a better world.
3. Why purple? Over the last few year's the colour purple has increasingly been associated with disability and the truth is no one really knows why this colour was chosen. We made a short film about 'The story of purple' which you can watch here.
4. Thank you to Network Rail for the above image which was taken as part of their #PurpleLightUp celebrations. You can read more about Network Rail's #PurpleLightUp celebrations here.
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