With National Inclusion Week approaching, we decided to talk to Robert Oldham, the deputy co-chair of our internal Enable Disability Network, to find out why it’s so important to be inclusive at work.
National Inclusion Week 2023
The main objective of National Inclusion Week is to shine a spotlight on diversity and inclusion within the workplace.
According to the Office for National Statistics, about one in ten people will have a disability during their lifetime. So, it’s important that we’re accessible and inclusive as a business and employer.
Our Enable Disability Network was set up in 2013 and gives our colleagues with disabilities, impairments and chronic conditions the chance to guide our policies and procedures, ensuring they’re as inclusive as possible.
As the deputy co-chair of Enable Disability, Robert believes that everyone has a role to play when it comes to inclusion in the workplace:
‘What’s important for disability in the workplace is that people who have an impairment or disabilities are supported and are not excluded from any events or activities.’
‘I think it’s really important as a bank we want to reflect the societies that we serve’
No matter your workplace, you’re going to encounter a variety of people from many different types of backgrounds. This diversity means that your colleagues are going to have individual needs that need to be accommodated.
‘As a colleague group, there will be colleagues affected by disabilities and those could be either visible disabilities or invisible disabilities. It’s important for us to have an awareness that everything that we are doing as an organisation is as inclusive as possible.’
‘Having a network of individuals who are interested in a topic is a great way of getting a variety of thought’
By having an internal network that promotes diversity and ‘aims to increase awareness across the bank’, we can make sure that opportunities are provided equally and that we can accommodate our colleagues’ needs. Robert told us that inclusivity is important because:
‘If we all thought the same way, it would be a very stale position. If we didn’t have an inclusive workplace, then notably that’s 10% of the potential workforce that we are excluding. That talent, skill and knowledge would be lost.’
How does Enable Disability help NatWest to champion inclusivity and diversity?
One of the best ways that we can promote diversity and inclusion is by being open about our differences and what we need to succeed in the workplace. Enable has played a big role in ensuring that we make our bank accessible for employees, and our customers as a result!
‘I think it’s really about raising awareness of the impact of these conditions and then having a think about what we can do to make a difference. For example, it was feedback from the Enable Network, working in conjunction with our colleagues in assistive technology, that really pushed for the ability to have closed captions on our zoom calls.’
It’s all about being ‘open and inclusive for anyone and everyone to be able to come in and bring their best self to work.’ The little things for accessibility make a big difference, whether that’s:
- Having ramp access for our buildings
- Providing automatic doors for people with mobility conditions
- Hearing loops for people who have hearing impairments
- Offering closed captions for our recorded sessions
Enable Disability and their events
Throughout the year, Enable Disability holds a number of events that focus on disability, accessibility, awareness and inclusion.
‘We have one in May for Global Accessibility Awareness Day to promote the agenda of accessibility across the world. The second one is in December, International Day of Persons with Disabilities which is a UN event. It’s to highlight the impact and the prevalence of disability.’
Enable supports us to create an inclusive culture through regular seminars, interviews and awareness sessions. These sessions have included:
- Working with Lexxic, who provides support for our neurodiverse colleagues and the work of our neurodiversity alliance network
- Collaborating with charity partners, including the MS society.
Robert was even able to attend the Business Disability Forums Annual Conference, an event sponsored by NatWest.
‘The power of events like that really helps to significantly raise awareness and it just makes people think about what steps they can take to help someone else within the organisation.’
‘The thing about accessibility is if you design it for one group of people, it will benefit many more’
For Robert and Enable Disability, the best way for people to provide support is ‘to be interested and get involved and just to consider others.’
Taking part in National Inclusion Week is a great way to learn more about diversity and inclusion. By being informed and aware of other peoples’ needs, we can continue to craft an inclusive culture that we can be proud of.