Group IT Governance Director, Annette Moody, was rushed to hospital shortly after starting her role at Serco, with a high-level spinal cord injury at level C2/3. After a year of rehabilitation, Annette returned to work becoming a disability network leader and disability champion. Here she reflects on the importance of senior champions and allies.
In 2013 Annette’s life changed when she became paralysed. But she always knew that she wanted to get back to work and stayed up to date throughout her rehabilitation process. And like many disabled people – 83% of whom acquire their disability during the course of their working life – Annette found returning to work daunting, feeling self-conscious about being unable to do “normal” things. She was also excited – getting back to continue doing something she loves, and ultimately, she knew she was still the same person with the same strengths (and flaws).
Being an ambassador accelerated her reinvention of herself. She became more confident to talk about her disability. Annette has used this confidence in her role as a champion to talk about the ways that other people can be helped. “It’s helped to give people a space to talk about disability from the point of view of what’s happened to me, which has made people feel comfortable talking about it. Before that, inadvertently it had become something that people just didn’t talk about. It’s also given people the license to talk about their own experience.” Seeing the difference that she has made has kept her motivated. “My philosophy is we help one person at a time. Disability is a unique experience and therefore we have to make how we help people unique too.”
For Annette, being a great champion requires passion: you can’t champion something you don’t feel passionate about. Annette describes the ability to make a difference as needing a mixture of head and heart, as well as knowing what practical steps can make a difference. This includes not generalising and trying to make one person’s experience the universal metaphor. And when thinking about the inclusiveness of Networks / ERGs she is mindful of the needs of employees with both visible and non-visible conditions.
The need for “discipline and rigour” around a good quality plan, which is then “shared and communicated”, is vital. Although it may feel daunting for network/resource group leaders to approach champions, especially if they’re in a senior position, Annette encourages network/resource group leaders to have clear objectives, and a framework to support a reliable structure.
Annette’s experience has crystalised the importance of allies and how they can really make a difference to workplace inclusion. With Serco’s core values of embracing diversity at all levels of the organisation, as well as her colleagues in the IT community, Annette has had a positive experience of engaging with allies. For those wanting to become an ally, Annette echoes the importance of “bringing the skills you’ve got to the network.” In her network / ERG, there is focus on technology, and this is definitely something an ally can help with, by making recommendations of technology that the network/ERG could use or helping members with the functionality of the technology.
In these challenging times, with Covid19 drastically changing the way we work, Annette advises readers to accept that it’s difficult, but it’s important to do as much as you can. “Whatever you’d normally do, try to do at least some of the work. The challenges for disabled people haven’t gone away. Some people with specific impairments may be particularly challenged by the current situation. Try to focus on the activities that contribute the most value but don’t consume the most time.”
For more information as to what makes a great Champion join our webinar on 24th June, with Annette Moody, and more guests. Sign up now.
Serco Fact Box:
- Annette Moody holds the position as Group IT Governance Director in Serco, responsible for the governance of IT Strategy and Policy
- Serco is a FTSE 250 company
- Serco was founded in 1929 as RCA Services Limited
- Serco has over 50,000 employees worldwide, and over 20,000 in the UK
- PurpleSpace took part in a “Fireside” podcast session with Serco in 2019, discussing disability in the workplace. The Fireside podcast was launched during National Inclusion Week and was sponsored by Serco’s Employee Networks.
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