Enhancing workplace access and inclusion

Tue 30 May 2017

Darren Fittler, Sam Turner, Ed Santow and Samantha Dancey, are seated as a panel on a small stage

On Thursday 25 May 2017, the Australian Network on Disability (AND) was invited to present at Diversity Council Australia (DCA)’s Diversity Leadership Program. The topic was 'How business can improve disability confidence'.

Alongside Edward Santow, Human Rights Commissioner, Darren Fittler, Partner, Gilbert and Tobin and Sam Turner, Westpac Group, AND’s Samantha Dancey, presented on the inaugural Access and Inclusion Index. The attendance at the event was strong, with around 50 guests registered to attend in person. An additional 95 attendees chose to livestream.

After a Welcome to Country address from Aunty Millie Ingram, Darren Fittler welcomed guests to the Gilbert and Tobin venue. Edward (Ed) Santow then talked about the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)’s focus on unconscious bias and the Willing to work enquiry.

Ed shared some wisdom from his father who was a judge, he said “My father always said ‘the best kind of judge is someone who can supress their prejudices’. I think he is right. To become aware of your own bias and then take steps to supress that bias, means you can start to contribute to a truly diverse community.”

Samantha Dancey then introduced AND’s Access and Inclusion Index. “For the first time, in Australia there is a way for organisations to measure their progress against access and inclusion goals,” she said. “The tailored evaluation and benchmarking reports provide organisations with a roadmap for improvement.”

Samantha then shared three case studies from the 2016 Access and Inclusion Benchmark Report, showcasing how the whole-of-organisation approach works for different businesses.

Following the presentations, Darren, Ed and Samantha were joined by Sam Turner from Westpac Group for a panel discussion. Westpac Group were named as a leading organisation in AND’s Access and Inclusion Index. According to Sam, “As one of Australia’s largest employers we have an obligation to be as accessible and inclusive as possible.”

The panel answered questions posed by Lisa Annese, CEO Diversity Council Australia and by event attendees. To finish, Simon Moss from The Recruitment Company asked, what steps small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could take to make the most difference.

The responses from the panel agreed that the best approach was to just start. Sam Turner advised setting a Disability Action Plan to outline the activities that you want to achieve. She also talked about how Employee Action Groups, like Westpac’s ABLE, help to ensure that people with disability have ‘space at the table.’

The takeaway from the event was to use AND’s Access and Inclusion Index quick self-assessment: a short ten question survey that provides organisations with a simple measure of their level of access and inclusion.

Darren concluded by saying, “My disability isn’t that I can’t see, it’s that I can’t access touch screen technology. By providing me with accessible solutions, my disability is gone. Give me an accessible world and I can participate equally.” 

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