"Having been born at 27 weeks and weighing less than 3lb, when I entered this world I was little bigger than a pencil. I have lived my life with a visible and physical disability." D&I Manager Richard Shakespeare shares a personal perspective and updates on the progress we’re making to enable colleagues with disabilities to contribute their best.
“In my view, I am not disabled because of a medical condition or diagnosis. I can, however, be disabled because of barriers to opportunity, limiting beliefs (my own or the beliefs of others) and by my surroundings.
My life has given me some incredible opportunities and experiences. Yes, I am a person with a disability but, I am also someone who has travelled to some of the most remote places in the world, had an incredible career to date, started a family and so much more. The opportunities I have had are in no small part down to the people and influences I have had around me – all of whom have helped to enable me.
I am proud to be part of an organisation committed to enablement, providing meaningful employment opportunities for people living with a disability and removing barriers for all our colleagues living with disabilities.
Two years ago, we pledged our support to the Valuable 500 charter as part of this commitment. The Valuable 500 is a global collective of leading companies committed to driving lasting change for the 1.3 billion people around the world, living with a disability.
Now, two years on, I am delighted to share some of the progress we have made to improve disability inclusion and support our goal of increasing disability representation across our workforce:
- We developed and communicated our Disability Plan, outlining our priorities and key actions for the next 5 years.
- In the UK we launched our Workplace Adjustments Passport to support constructive conversations between individuals and their line managers to ensure that colleagues with disabilities have access to the support and adjustments they require to be their best.
- We have encouraged colleagues to record any disability confidentially in our people systems – as part of our ‘Self ID’ campaign – to better understand and support the needs within our workforce.
- Sign language classes were held throughout 2021 and we incorporated British Sign Language into more of our videos and employee engagement.
- Under the umbrella of our growing disability employee resource group, Enabled UK, we launched our Dyslexia Network to raise awareness and offer support.
- We improved our job advertising to help us attract more candidates with disabilities.
- Our leaders demonstrated their support by attending disability training, internal and external events exploring disability inclusion, and by engaging in our partnerships with organisations such as PurpleSpace and Valuable 500.
- We raised awareness and understanding by celebrating the contribution of people with disabilities on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and by running year-round ‘lunch and learn’ sessions for colleagues.
- In 2020, in Saudi Arabia, we were awarded a Gold Category certification from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, in recognition of our inclusive and supportive work environment for our with disabilities.
- In the US, we scored 100% on the American Association of People with Disabilities Disability’s Equality Index.
We’ve made good progress, but we know there is much more to do. This year, we will build on these foundations, working to attract more people with disabilities to join BAE Systems, and enable all of our colleagues with disabilities to reach their full potential.