Patrick Stephenson is on a mission to drive disability inclusion through technology. Through his experience as an Executive Sponsor for Fujitsu’s SEED Disability Employee Network, as well as the Tech Champion in the Business Leaders’ Group, the Chair for techUK’s Accessible Technology Board and Fujitsu’s Director of Innovation and Healthcare, Patrick is raising the bar for the UK tech sector.
Patrick agreed to be Fujitsu’s Executive Sponsor for SEED Disability Network in 2019 due to his desire for societal tech to be used for good, especially in order to make a difference to others. A supreme professional in scaling up businesses, Patrick has used his skills to develop big ideas with high ambitions and seeks to bring this to the forefront during his tenure as Tech Champion to the Business Leaders’ Group. “I’m working to create a new gold standard for accessible technology in the UK - we’re bringing in all the big tech companies to be part of this. 80% of accessibility features are already in products and services today, but because of lack of knowledge, these capabilities are not communicated. Tech companies will have to communicate how these accessibility features are available. I believe that this will completely change the lives of people - and will help SMEs to compete against big organisations.”
Through the Culture Change Programme by Fujitsu and techUK, Patrick is also driven to make sure that disabled people lead on developing accessible technology - working with disabled people through product design and to attract and attain disabled talent is key. Part of Patrick’s mission is to educate people in the sector to better design products for disabled people from the start and ensuring that organisations have up front confidence to talk to people – to not be shy in getting things wrong. Fujitsu was one of the first 6 organisations to sign up to Valuable 500 Commitment and was a founding member of PurpleSpace. “We had a takeover day with Caroline Casey and Kate Nash about how we can make things better, which ignited more commitment from our board to do more about attaining and attracting talent. Our the Chief Executive and other members are great advocates, but it’s important for there to be more people in the company talking about disability at a board level and having a voice. We connected our disabled employees (non-executive level) and strong external advocates with our executive team/Board to help accelerate change. The listening and learning was first-class. It’s got to be top down and bottom up - it must be both.”
Patrick has developed a deep level of understanding and knowledge about what makes a good disability champion – chairing and moderating our webinar “What Makes a Great Champion” webinar on 24th June 2020 he brings passion and energy to the role. “You’ve got to cut through complexity and get things done. Champions are more than just a figurehead. It’s about making a difference to employees, and to society. It’s about not accepting anything less - a clear vision and the right structure to get things done.” My role is to support the business and the SEED Disability Network to focus on outputs and outcomes. “It’s about understanding the problem and having clarity of the outcomes and the benefit of those outcomes.”
It’s not just Champions and networks working together that drives change - it’s also working with allies too. In Fujitsu's SEED Disability Network, allies have made a big difference. “One of the sales people is passionate about disability and has a daughter with a disability and said “How can I help?” They have lots of good ideas and commercial skills about including disabled talent. With allies, it’s about working with what people’s personal agendas are, and what specialist skills and different thinking that they can bring. The SEED Disability Network has come a long way and are growing by being inclusive and that’s a good thing for everyone.”
Even with the support of Champions and Allies, Patrick knows it’s important to reassess what is possible for a network/ERG to deliver on due to the impact of Covid19. “Quite rightly, in our SEED group, we’ve been blown off course with our plan as a result of Covid. We decided to focus on one of the five objectives that we had internally, instead of people being split up working on different objectives. We have reframed focus to reduce stress, work more collectively and have been honest about priorities as a group and our capacity and capability. It’s important to not be afraid to reframe and refocus because feeling like we’re not being productive or getting things done can affect our mental health, so we’ve broken the outcomes into smaller bite-sized chunks.”
Patrick’s motivations, and achievements, truly highlights him as not just a good Champion, but a great one. Patrick explored the importance of having a Champion, the core competencies of Champions and what Champions can do to make a difference on 24th June. The What Makes A Great Champion webinar will be a great opportunity for both Champions and network/ERG leaders to learn together and be fuelled by inspiration.
Fujitsu Fact Box:
- Fujitsu is a PurpleSpace / PurpleLightUp strategic partner.
- The SEED (Supporting and Engaging Employees with Disabilities) Network is one of five staff networks at Fujitsu.
- The SEED Network won a Business Disability Forum award in 2015/6.
- Fujitsu was re-accredited as a Disability Confident Leader by the Department of Work and Pensions in 2020.
- Fujitsu was listed in the Top 25 in the Social Mobility Employers Index.
- Fujitsu has over 6,000 employees in the UK and Ireland and is the largest Japanese employer in the region.
- Fujitsu has been recognised as a Top Stonewall LGBT+ Employer for 5 consecutive years.
- Fujitsu is a Top 50 BITC Employer for Women.
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