Sara Pickard and James Wilkinson from Cardiff join the team of Champions to help make Wales a Fair Work Nation with equal opportunities for disabled workers.
As a strong advocate of disability inclusivity and visibility in the workplace, Sara has worked as a Project Officer for Mencap Cymru and is a Council member for Europe for Inclusion International.
James has extensive experience in helping people with impairments access employment during his time at the Big Issue, and is focussed on demystifying misconceptions employers have of disabled workers.
As experts in inclusivity, Sara, James and the other Champions will use their specialist knowledge and lived experience to promote the benefits of a diverse workforce and provide practical support to businesses across Wales to help them attract, recruit and retain disabled employees.
The announcement is part of Welsh Government’s commitment to tackle the disability employment gap as set out in the Employability Plan.
In the year ending September 2020, the employment rate for disabled people in Wales was 48.5%, compared with 80.6% of non-disabled people.
In 2002, the Welsh Government was the first government to adopt the Social Model of Disability. That means that it is recognised that people are disabled by the actions of society – including the attitudes and behaviour of people, organisations and systems – not by their impairments.
Sara said: “I want to help employers change the way they think about disabled people so they understand that individuals are not disabled by their impairments but society’s response to these which may result in the societal exclusion of disabled people.
“I look forward to working with businesses across Wales to ensure greater visibility of disabled people in employment and encourage equal access to workplace opportunities.”
James said: “I believe Wales can be a global leader in workplace inclusion and diversity. In my role as a Disabled People’s Employment Champion, I’ll work closely with business leaders to help bring about behavioural and cultural change, enabling more employers to become confident and feel empowered to make changes to their recruitment and retention of disabled employees.”
The Champions will work with employers across Wales to increase awareness of the availability of talent and skills provided by disabled people, and the support and funding available to businesses to help create environments where disabled people can thrive.
In addition to this, they will be able to advise employers on how they can adapt their recruitment and employment practices to become more inclusive, while dispelling myths and educating employers on the reality of reasonable adjustments.
For more information on how your business can attract, recruit, and retain disabled employees, contact the Disabled People’s Employment Champions by emailing [email protected] or visit Skills Gateway for Business.