To mark the ‘UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021’ we’re proud to be supporting Purple Space with their #PurpleLightUp event on Friday 3 December and joining the global conversation, leader to leader, between CEOs and employees with disabilities.
In this podcast, our CEO Louise Smyth and members of our Ability Network, Stuart Brain and Martyn Flynn, discuss the importance of celebrating the economic contribution of employees with disabilities, why disability networks are such a powerful vehicle for cultural change and what purposeful leadership means to them.’
Stuart Brain: Hello! My name is Stuart Brain. I am the chair of the Ability Network here in Companies House, which supports our colleagues and allies living with health conditions and disabilities. I'm joined today by the vice chair, Martin Flynn and our CEO, Louise Smyth. The 3rd of December is purple light up which is the international day of persons with disabilities and highlights the value that 386 million disabled employees around the world, bring to the workplace. Hi Louise. So why is Companies House chosen to support this year's purple light up?
Louise Smyth: Hi, Stu. I'm absolutely delighted to be doing this video and taking part in purple light up provides a perfect opportunity for Companies House to visibly celebrate the economic contribution of employees with disability and shine a light on the work of those driving disability inclusion in our organisation, which is really important to us. Every single one of our employees plays an important part in helping us to achieve our vision, deliver the excellent services to our customers and ultimately, to drive confidence in the UK economy.
SB: Fantastic. Thanks Louise. And I'm totally with you. I'm really excited to be supporting purple light up again this year and our Cardiff office looks amazing lit up purple again. And as you mentioned, all of our employees can help play a part and help us deliver our vision and deliver successful products services to our customers. So why is it do you think that learning directly from our employees with disabilities can be such a powerful vehicle for culture change here at Companies House?
LS: You’re right, it really can be powerful. It's important that we learn from everyone and that includes our disabled colleagues. So, each of them will have their own experience to bring to the table, and it will be different in every case. Both from the perspective of working within Companies House and how we need to shape our culture so everyone can bring their whole selves to work. But also, to provide insight, we need to be representative of our customers and the people that we serve. And so, disabled, colleagues can bring that insight of how things that we put out, services that we put out there, can impact disabled people and how they're going to experience that. So I think that's really important for us.
SB: That's great. And I'm super proud of the brilliant work that colleagues from our Ability Network do to support our culture change. And also, really proud that we have great leadership from the top down here in Companies House. With all of our executive team engaged as senior sponsors of our many people networks. So, regards to leadership, what do you think are the characteristics of purposeful leadership?
LS: Well, thanks Stu. I'm glad you think there’s great leadership at Companies House. For me, purposeful leadership is achieved by empowering, motivating and energizing everyone to reach their full potential. And to do that, we need to have open conversations, we need to have trust, that's really important. And we need that trust to build people's confidence and remove barriers for Them particularly for people with disabilities. Some good examples of that could include making sure our recruitment processes are fully inclusive and that we’re able to make the adjustments to support everyone. Could be having an interview buddy, extra time at assessments or receiving the interview questions in advance, they’re just some examples. I'm really proud that Companies House is a disability confident leader. We're proud to promote that and to encourage all my senior leaders and other employees to think differently about disability and most important, to take action to improve the way that we recruit, retain and develop disabled people.
SB: I totally agree with you Louise. And that environment has really given me the confidence to speak about my own health condition and along with other colleagues, which allows us to be a lot more comfortable in really just being ourselves that work. So, I suppose what does what does diversity and inclusion really mean for Companies House, do you think?
LS: It’s so important. It's the golden thread that runs through everything that we do and our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality supports our brilliant people to deliver brilliant services to our customers. And it's vital that we’re representative of the diversity of our customers and of society so that we can do that really well. We've made some great progress, we've got networks, thriving across Companies House to enable people to discuss issues that are really important to them, and that they share and to resolve. We've got a public target to increase the number of appointments we make to jobs from underrepresented groups by 10% and we're going great guns towards achieving that and I’m really proud of that.
SB: That's great. I have to agree that our commitment to realizing our vision is fantastic. And seeing first hand that we do recognize and realize the contributions that our disabled colleagues, make to our whole organization is brilliant. I am so glad that we were able to have some time together today to discuss this and celebrate by supporting purple light up. Thanks for your time.