Information Sharing Success Stories

Multiple strategies contribute to a dramatic increase in the number of employees stating they have a disability

When ANZ asked the question for the first time in 2014, they were concerned only 1.6% of employees chose to state they had a disability.  They knew the numbers were much higher (likely to be as high as 9.2% which is what is attributed to the private sector in the ABS 2012 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers).

They suspected that employees did not feel safe to answer yes, despite it being part of a wider staff satisfaction survey which was anonymous and non-identifying. The same question posed one year later in May 2015 showed a dramatic increase – 7.2% of all respondents answered yes to the question “Do you have a disability?”

ANZ’s Flexibility, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Fiona Vines, is extremely pleased with the 2015 results.  She attributes the large increase to the bank’s decision in 2013 to strongly align their disability focus to their business strategy.  That strategy 'making banking easy for all' and for all customers to have a great experience, meant that ANZ began to include accessibility as an integral step when developing new products as well as increasing the number of staff with disability to better reflect their customers. They also increased their involvement in Australian Network on Disability (AND)’s PACE Mentoring program and wove accessibility into their community engagement commitments. 

ANZ sponsors the Special Olympics and has extended its commitment to netball to improving accessibility for people with disability at a local club level.

“We needed to change both our systems and our culture.  We did this by reviewing our recruitment strategies and upskilling our internal and external recruiters with the help of AND.  We reconsidered our workplace adjustment policies and procedures and improved access to branches and ATMs - for example ATMs that talk, have braille and are at wheelchair height.  We’ve also developed new mobile banking applications like GROW and GoMoney which have been winning awards and delighting our customers.  Designing products to be accessible for people with disability means they are more accessible for all our customers and in turn are likely to attract new customers.  That’s a direct benefit to our bottom line,” explains Fiona Vines. 

The bank has also been tracking outcomes from staff involved in the PACE mentoring program and found that employee satisfaction literally goes through the roof, making it more likely they will stay and give discretionary effort.

ANZ found that while they’d been working hard on all these aspects, they weren’t doing such a good job of telling their people and customers about it.  That changed in 2014. 

Fiona Vines continues, “At least once a month we’ve got a positive story connected to disability in our intranet, website or on social media.  Our involvement with the Special Olympics and accessible community netball have helped provide these good news stories but so too has our expanding Abilities Network.” 

ANZ's Abilities Network brings together employees across the organisation who work together to advocate for improvements for staff and customers with disability.  Senior staff getting involved has also helped raise the profile and reiterate the message that the bank is serious about this issue.  In December 2014, CEO Mike Smith presented the annual Star Awards on UN International Day for Disability. The awards celebrate staff who have demonstrated inclusive practice either in the workplace or with customers. 

“We couldn’t do the storytelling without having done the work but the storytelling is helping to change the culture," says Fiona. "It’s making it real to many of our staff who are carers, or who may have an invisible disability such as a mental illness or are living with a degenerative illness.  We believe that 7.2% of employees sharing they have a disability is starting to get us to a critical mass. We’re not there yet, 15 % would be fantastic as we would be reflecting the number of people with disability in the working population but we are beginning to see the pay-off of making accessibility real and part of the fabric of the organisation.”

Employees with multiple sclerosis who tell their employer are more likely to stay in their jobs 

A large study of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) conducted by Monash University’s Department of Management between 2010 and 2012 found that employees who had shared their MS status with their employer were more likely to remain in employment in the third year. The effect of disclosure in predicting employment status remained after controlling for age, gender and level of disability. 

This study provides powerful evidence for the positive role of sharing information assisting in maintaining employ­ment status, measured both as job retention and tenure in current employment.

Source: AK Kirk-Brown, PA Van Djilk, RD Simmons, MP Bourne and BK Cooper. Disclosure of diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in the workplace positively affects employment status and job tenure.   Published in Multiple Sclerosis Journal 2013.

A UK firm was able to gain a significant increase in the number of employees who shared that they had a disability - from 2.5 to 9 percent within two years

Steps undertaken in the two years included discussing with staff why they didn’t want to share; giving specific examples of disability but not asking employees to state what disability or impairment they had; and inviting employees to come forward with requests for workplace adjustments (and being able to meet these requests). They were also very clear about protecting employees’ privacy and confidentiality.

Source: Employers’ Forum on Disability (now known as UK Business Forum on Disability) “Monitoring for Change, A practical guide to monitoring disability in the workforce,” 2004.

Telstra’s Personalisation at Work tools – getting people what they need

Telstra introduced “Personalisation at Work” tools to better support team members with disability and their People Leaders. The tools are about getting people what they need in the workplace to be as productive as possible. A Telstra survey in late 2014 found that employees who have had an effective adjustment to their workplace or work practices which leaves them ‘barrier free’ are more engaged than the average employee.

Lloyds Banking Group, UK - disability smart’ also means ‘business smart’

Since 2009 Lloyds Banking Group has undergone a fundamental transformation to ensure their working environment best meets the needs of all their employees.  Through a re-engineering of workplace adjustment processes, Lloyds has delivered financial savings, productivity benefits, cut administration and assessment costs and improved manager and employee satisfaction.  Approximately 19 percent of their workforce used the re-engineered service between 2012 and 2014; 63 percent of managers of employees using the service reported a reduction in absence levels (estimated to save over 1 million pounds for each day); and 85 percent of line managers using the service reported a significant improvement in performance. 

Source: Lloyds Banking Group Case Study published by Business Disability Forum, December 2014.