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Conference Asks Difficult Questions on Disability Inclusion


With businesses pre-occupied with the uncertainty of Brexit, who is willing to ask the difficult questions and drive forward the disability agenda within their organisation? This is the question that Business Disability Forum will be seeking to answer at its annual conference ‘Disability Leading the Way’ on Thursday 25th April. The conference is being hosted by the British Library and sponsored by HSBC.

‘Disability Leading the Way’ is bringing together an eclectic mix of speakers to discuss attitudes to disability and where change is occurring and why. The line-up of speakers includes senior business leaders to next generation innovators, campaigners, comedians and athletes. They will be sharing how their own experiences of disability and what has led them to become change makers.

The day will begin with ‘Tearing down the taboos’ a session debating how we can all make a difference by being willing to tackle topics which others may be too embarrassed to discuss. Speakers will include leaders from Crohn’s &Colitis UK, Bipolar UK, National Migraine Centre and Menopause Expert, Activist and Entrepreneur, Meg Matthews.

Later in the morning, producer, and BBC Ouch co-host, Simon Minty, will be chairing a panel entitled ‘The next generation, change makers and innovators’. The panel will discuss how younger people (check) view diversity and the progress made by older generations, and how millennials are influencing change. Speakers will include campaigner and activist Abigail Brown. Abigail worked on the recent ‘Look on the Light Side of Disability’ campaign and was listed in the ’50 Trailblazers of the Future’ by Campaign Magazine. As well as Director of The Valuable 500 Campaign and inclusive design consultant, Marianne Waite, accessibility consultant, Molly Watt, author, campaigner and number 4 on the Shaw Trust’s Disability Power 100 2018, Martyn Sibley, and Paralympian and film-maker, Oliver Lam-Watson.

In the afternoon, winners of Business Disability Forum’s Disability Smart Awards 2018, will be sharing best practice from wihin their organisations, and how it can be applied elsewhere. Organisations taking part include HS2, Financial Conduct Authority, Gatwick Airport and Microsoft.

The day will finish with the ‘Change in our time? Leaders of Today’ panel, where Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at The Telegraph, Asif Sadiq will challenge senior business leaders on the impact of changes made within their own organisations and learnings for the future. The panel will include, Home Office Permanent Secretary, Sir Philip Ruttnam, Executive Director or Banking, Payments and Innovation at the Bank of England, Victoria Cleland, and National Diversity Manager at the Environment Agency, Mike Clarke.

They will be joined by Dr Caroline Casey founder of The Valuable 500 campaign, which launched earlier in the year at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Asif Sadiq will be asking how the high profile campaign, which is being supported by Richard Branson, amongst others, is affecting change at board level and what this means for disability inclusion.

At the conference, Business Disability Forum will also be announcing the findings of its Great Big Workplace Adjustments survey. The survey is set to be one of the most informed studies ever conducted on the impact of workplace adjustments.

Bela Gor, Head of Campaigns, Business Disability Forum, said:

“We hope our ‘Disability leading the way conference’ will get people thinking about what leadership in disability looks like and how we are all responsible for driving change. Please come along ready to have your views challenged and open to thinking differently about disability inclusion within your organisation.”

Business Disability Forum’s ‘Disability leading the way conference’ is taking place from 10am to 5pm on Thursday 25th April at the British Library in London. To find out further information and to book a place, go to #DisabilitySmart