Benchmarking disability confidence

Wed 17 May 2017

A series of delegates at the 2017 Annual National Conference holding the Benchmark Report and smiling

Many customers with disability have experienced discrimination from one or more organisations in the last 12 months[1].

In fact, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) confirmed in a Senate estimates hearing that the highest level of complaints they receive are about disability discrimination[2].

And, the Australian Network on Disability (AND)’s Disability Confidence Survey, revealed a passive approach to welcoming people with disability with businesses reporting that they don’t take action until asked[3].  

Given this, it is welcome news that organisations now have a way to measure their performance and progress with AND’s Access and Inclusion Index – adapted from the UK’s Disability Standard and designed in collaboration with Australian organisations and Centre for Workplace Leadership.

In an Australian first, 22 organisations completed a comprehensive, whole of organisation, self-assessment against ten key areas. Commitment, Premises, Workplace Adjustments, Communication and Marketing, Products and Services, Information Communication Technology (ICT), Recruitment and Selection, Career Development, Suppliers and Partners and Innovation.

“Our Access and Inclusion Index provides an organisation-wide systematic approach to ensuring people with disability can participate equally as employees, customers and stakeholders,” said Suzanne Colbert AM, CEO Australian Network on Disability.

“We see many organisations that have a high level of commitment. Top performers know what to do to ensure that people who have low vision or blind, people who are hard of hearing or deaf and those with other disabilities can be equally included,” she added.

AND says that the Access and Inclusion Index will be a real game changer and provide a roadmap for organisations to follow. “We know that businesses learn best from each other and we are really delighted that Barclays Bank from the UK is here in Australia to share their story,” said Suzanne.  

Mark McLane, Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion for Barclays PLC was the keynote speaker at AND’s Annual National Conference: Enabling Change, Creating Impact. In 2016, he led the UK bank to achieve the highest ever score (98%) in the Disability Standard. 

“I love having a positive impact on people's lives. Having someone send an email about how welcoming an organisation Barclays is, and how, right from the interview process through to coming in as a new colleague, the language is inclusive. The feeling that you can bring your true self to work is very important,” said Mark.

The Access and Inclusion Benchmark Report was launched at AND’s Annual National Conference held, for the first time, in Melbourne at the MCG on Tuesday 16 May 2017.

The event attracted a record number of delegates and was proudly supported by Major Sponsors, the Australian Government Department of Social Services and Attorney General’s Department.

“It was wonderful to welcome a record number of business professionals including CEOs, Senior Managers, Diversity Practitioners, Human Resources Professionals and Work Health and Safety Advisors, from both the public and private sectors,” said Suzanne.

Organisations wanting to use the Access and Inclusion Index to create a competitive edge can complete a free 10 question self-assessment that will help identify areas to improve. It is available from AND’s website To access, follow the links to the Access and Inclusion Index, quick Self-Assessment.

“The Access and Inclusion Index raises the bar and we expect to see year on year improvements across many organisations,” said Suzanne.  

Read the 2016 Access and Inclusion Benchmark Report.

What participants say

HealthShare NSW

Bronwyn Scott, Disability Employment Leader, at HealthShare New South Wales, was one of the first to use the tool. “We want to know where we stand in terms of access and inclusion. The Index is a useful way of identifying where the gaps are, so we can improve our performance in the future. It really guides your focus and gives you leverage to drive change,” said Bronwyn.

Life without Barriers

Life Without Barriers was also pleased with how the Index supported them to take stock of their progress. “It’s measurable. There are real figures and real data to work from. I think it will be a powerful tool to help us move forward. We don’t see diversity and inclusion as a one-off event. It’s part of our business; it’s what we do and we’re including it across all of our areas,” said Fiona Davies, National Manager Diversity and Inclusion.

About the Australian Network on Disability

Founded in 2000, the Australian Network on Disability is a national, membership based, for-purpose organisation that aims to advance access and inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of business. This includes employment, customer service, stakeholder relations and supply of goods.

Member organisations have access to a network of highly skilled relationship managers and training consultants, who are experts in providing training, advice and resources to support disability access and inclusion.

Media contact

Megan Bishop, Marketing and PR Manager, Australian Network on Disability

Ph: (02) 8270 9208, Mobile: 0405 624 232, Email:

[1] 'Missing out: The business case for customer diversity' 2017, Australian Human Rights Commission, viewed 15 March 2017.

[3] '2016 Disability Confidence Survey' 2016, Australian Network on Disability, viewed 15 March 2017.

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