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Disability Inclusion

Laura Watkin, Diversity and Inclusion Business Partner, and Mark Downing, Senior Business App Developer and Leader of the Accessibility Action Group share their experiences of working together to develop a new organisational approach that will help create a disability confident culture at NPL.

The launch of our new Disability and long-term condition policy this week represents the final stage of a process which has been ongoing for many months and involved many people along the way. As we celebrate the launch this week, we wanted to also share how we got there.

The concept behind our new policy came from our staff-led accessibility action group, with our people sharing that some of the process was opaque to them making it difficult to know what to expect or where to start. As we explored this further in workshops with a sub-group of our staff led networks, it emerged that uncertainty was a significant concern- whether that was uncertainty about what would happen, how you would be treated, how people would react, or who information might be shared with. It became clear that to unlock the full potential of our people and put in place effective support, we needed to provide clarity and give confidence in the processes that we had in place.

Equipped with this understanding, we were able to shape NPL’s policy to address these concerns and layout the principles of our approach before working with colleagues in Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, Health and Safety, Estates and our Postgraduate Institute, who have all contributed their expertise and perspective to help identify the changes needed across the organisation to make those principles work in practice. Through these conversations with our staff-led networks we have all learned more and developed a greater understanding of how we can improve the experience for those that need additional support in the workplace.

As we discussed more, we identified that we needed to raise awareness of disability and long-term conditions more generally, noting the importance of that first conversation and what happens next. While our formal processes  focus on support for individuals and their line managers, all of us have a role in removing unnecessary barriers and providing support. Everyone at NPL can access information that provides an understanding of disability and/or long-term condition and what people experience with a view to help people be more empathetic and have more informed conversations.

Our goal is to create an environment where individuals feel able to share information about their disability and/or long-term condition, when they are ready do so, in the knowledge that its safe to do so and with the confidence that they will be able to access the support that they need.

03 Dec 2021