When it comes to supporting disabled people to get into and stay in work, Virgin Media has the right idea. Head of Sustainability Katie Buchanan explains the company’s Work With Me campaign…
Disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as nondisabled people – and our research shows that disabled people, on average, are forced to apply for 60 per cent more jobs, too. That needs to change. Back in September, Virgin Media launched a partnership with Scope, the leading disability charity, to support one million disabled people in getting into and staying in work by the end of 2020.
The nationwide campaign, ‘Work With Me’, highlights the stark reality of the job market and the struggle thousands of disabled people face to find and stay in employment. Building an inclusive culture that truly represents our customers and employees plays an important role in ensuring the success of our business – we know that a diverse and inclusive culture fosters high-performing teams that can better support our customers.
In true Virgin style, delivering our inclusion commitments requires everyone having an open mind and engaging with the disability agenda. Inclusion is about helping everyone to feel connected to our business and valuing what they say and do.
Build skills and confidence
With Scope, we’re developing Support to Work, a new online hub that will provide disabled people with information, knowledge and support so that they have the confidence and skills to apply for a job, and to stay in work.
The new hub will be launching in spring 2018. It will offer disabled people of working age, plus people in their support network (including friends, family and employers) information, advice and support that is right for them, quickly and easily.
Step up and lead as a responsible business
We want to transform the experience for our disabled employees and customers. We’re going to achieve this by removing barriers and by building the needs of our customers and employees into our business model and ways of working.
We’re taking steps to better understand and transform how we support disabled employees. We’ve committed to making some big changes, so we can be confident that disabled people are not held back from experiencing both a great employment experience and outstanding products and services.
Create a movement and drive change
Let’s change the workplace for good. Most people agree that there should be everyday equality. But they don’t always understand that it’s society that puts limits on disabled people finding meaningful employment, not their actual disability.
We want to disrupt people’s understanding of disability and show them that a diverse, inclusive workplace that includes disabled people is better for everyone, and give them ideas for making this happen.
We want our people to have a fantastic experience at work and be their best This includes disabled people. We’re working with Scope to continually look at our workplaces, policies and practices. We’re taking steps to transform how we support disabled employees and help them realise their potential. We’re always looking to do more, and we know we’re not perfect.
Things we’ve done so far
Buildings: Using our Bradford office as a test space, we’ve started to develop a buildings accessibility standard that will roll out to other sites. We’ve also rolled out new toilet signage that is more inclusive of invisible disabilities.
Education: We’ve created a new disability awareness module for our people and a guide for line managers. We’re working with our resourcing partners to make sure we’re thinking about accessibility throughout the recruitment process.
Dyslexia font: We’ve launched a dedicated font to make it easier for people with dyslexia to digest content on screen.
Things we want to do
Update our policies: Develop new people policies to better support our disabled people.
Training: All of our senior leaders will go through training in how to be aware of, and overcome, unconscious bias.
Buildings: Implement our new buildings accessibility standard at Bradford; listen, learn and roll out at other sites.
Workplace adjustments: Start a project to update our workplace adjustments process, enabling disabled people to get the very best experience and environment they need.