Last month saw the launch of the Disability Employee Network for the newly formed Shaw Trust Group. The network is open to any colleague who is interested in making the lives of disabled people at Shaw Trust better, faster.
The event was hosted by Clare Gray, Shaw Trust’s Disability Advocacy Adviser at the Birmingham Hub. There were around 20 employees from across the group from department heads to people with lived experience of disability.
At the heart of the network are the Shaw Trust values:
•We care about people
•We make a difference
•We are inclusive
•We are collaborative
•We are honest
Attendees heard from Mark Earl, Chief Talent Officer, who will work with the network to ensure it’s supported at senior level and that it’s a ‘two way conversation’. He stated the purpose of the Disability Employee Network is to ensure our staff body reflects the communities we serve as well as to enable our employees to realise their full potential, regardless of their personal circumstances or background.
Mark explained Shaw Trust is developing a behavioural competency framework which will help form a culture across the group. It will inform and help support employees to build equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) into our daily work. It will also ensure our premises are as accessible as possible and that our recruitment and services reflect the communities we serve. It was agreed the network will link into our existing employee forum, Employee Voice, and other networks.
Clare Gray mentioned that we have representation at trustee level from Mike Nussbaum, who is visually impaired.
The network then heard from Anna Fletcher, a member of Purple Space which is the world’s only professional development group for disability network leaders.
Anna is an employment lawyer at Gowling WLG as well as the chair of the Company's disability network. Anna has Macular disease and is also a trustee of the Macular Society.
Anna talked about the challenges faced by the Gowling disability network. She said that her disability network started out well but it faltered because it did not have the senior sponsorship required to change the areas that needed to be changed.
Anna explained that the firm has been working to break down the stigma of mental health through reaching out to people when they need it the most and has designated mental health first aiders as well as providing training for senior leaders. Anna said the great thing about creating a successful disability networking group is that there’s an opportunity to create a ripple effect, creating momentum and providing an opportunity for colleagues to be the best they can be.
Matt Davis from TFL, who is another member of Purple Space, detailed his experience of chairing the TFL Staff Network Group for Disability and how they had set up peer to peer sub-groups. Matt, who has autism, stated that at TFL they place disability at the end of the network name to emphasise the staff element first.
Gemma Jamieson, Digital Content Officer, detailed her story of coming to Shaw Trust first as a client and then working at Shaw Trust from the perspective of someone with Dyslexia. She explained how she had taken some time off for mental ill health while working at Shaw Trust and how straightforward it had been to return as she did a full-time paid phased return to work.
Clare Gray summed up by saying that the networks motto is: “Working together we can make the organisation better faster”. Find out more about working at Shaw Trust
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