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I’ve been at the PPF for almost two years, working in the contact centre team. I saw the job advertised on Scope’s job board and saw that the PPF had a Disability Confident Leader accreditation.  
At the time I didn’t know what the accreditation was and felt wary that it was something for show. When I looked into it, I realised the things that organisations have to do and commit to in order to get the accreditation. I was pleasantly surprised and reassured that this would be an inclusive workplace for people with disabilities and long-term health conditions like myself.  

Jodie Saunders

A supportive recruitment experience

Often people with disabilities and long-term health conditions don’t want to disclose their condition or disability in the early stages of recruitment, as they may be worried about judgement.  

As my condition is visible and obvious, I don’t really have that choice, but I can understand the anxiety that comes with telling potential employers. In the past I’ve been worried about what interviewers may think in terms of allowing adjustments or changing the workplace environment to ensure it’s accessible for me.  
My experience with the PPF was different to other workplaces in that I felt instantly reassured. Gary, our recruitment partner, was kind and attentive. He acknowledged my long-term health condition and ensured that I had the right equipment set up so that I’d be comfortable for my interview. He was an incredibly supportive first point of contact and took a weight off me so that I could focus on the interview and presenting myself as an excellent candidate.  

Taking action on feedback  

When I joined the team, everyone supported with me with setting up my equipment and environment. I’ve been really pleased with the flexibility the PPF has offered me when I have needed to work remotely or needed to take some recovery time.  

I use a wheelchair sometimes and one day in the office I couldn’t make a cup of tea because I couldn’t reach the mugs. It was a physically and mentally draining experience for me. Often, it’s these things people don’t think about which can be really difficult for people who use wheelchairs.  
However, within the space of a week, our office services team had read my email about my experience, and addressed the issue by making sure mugs are also stored at a lower level. This is a simple example of how small things can make a big difference in terms of inclusivity, and also shows there is a great feedback loop that leads to action within the PPF.  
I feel this is true across the business as there is a real speak up culture and colleagues are genuinely happy to hear feedback, regardless of your seniority or team. This isn’t the case in all workplaces and previously I have felt scared to make requests that would help me manage my condition. 

Improving inclusivity through community groups  

I’m a member of the Diverse Ability Awareness Action Group (DAAAG) which is our employee-run community group that encourages colleagues to have open conversations and raise awareness around neurodivergence, disabilities and long-term health conditions. I’m also a member of the Kaleidoscope group, another of our employee-run community groups, who champion LGBTQ+ issues within our organisation.  
It’s brilliant to have groups to facilitate discussions and lead on initiatives for improving inclusivity. They also create a space where people feel more confident to raise issues.  

I’m an active member of these groups as I’m passionate about experiences inside and outside of work being accessible for others. When I was younger, I certainly didn’t feel as confident to give feedback or share my experiences but now I feel able to speak up for what I believe will help others.  
Some projects I’m currently working on, which will improve inclusivity further for both our members and our colleagues, include: 

  • Ideas for our member websites and implementing easier ways for members to tell us they have a condition or disability so we can support them better 
  • Setting up a neurodiversity forum
  • Exploring the idea of having an accessibility ‘buddy’ system 

My key recommendations for workplaces that are looking to be more inclusive, would be to speak to employees, encourage suggestions and act on the feedback. Having diversity groups is also good starting point to get the conversation going.