The event included an impressive group of speakers, panel discussions and also the launch of Enabling’s Disability Awareness campaign for 2016.
External speakers at the event were Paralympic Team Captain, Claire Harvey, Flight Lieutenant, Ayla Holdom and IBM Inclusion and Diversity Manager, Deborah Richards, who all provided inspiring insights into the issues they have overcome.
Claire described her life journey from being the youngest prison governor in the UK, to when she was knocked off her bike in 2008. She told how she overcame despair by at first volunteering in a Paralympic trial day, to becoming team captain of the GB sitting volleyball team at the London 2012 games. All this, while also raising a family with her same sex partner.
The conference then heard from Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom, who described her experience of transitioning gender while in the RAF, as a Search and Rescue Pilot, flying in the same squadron as Prince William. Ayla’s story showed great courage as she coped with not only operational duty in the Middle East, but also with the challenges of dealing with the press too. Ayla said that the support she had received from both colleagues and the RAF in general had been invaluable.
Delegates were treated to an insightful presentation on unconscious bias (i.e. biases which we are not consciously in control of) by Deborah Richards, who shared IBM’s reasons for tackling this issue. These included looking at biases that affect productivity and performance and the challenges this can raise for a leadership team. Attendees heard that biased decisions are those which we reach in seconds, rather than decisions based on slow reflective thinking.
Both the PRIDE and Enabling sessions featured a panel discussion hosted by PRIDE co-lead Melanie Jackson. This was a chance to find out how organisations such as the MoD, IBM and KPMG deliver best practice, and how they work to make their organisations truly inclusive.
In the afternoon the conference saw the launch of Enabling’s Disability Awareness campaign for 2016, starting with a focus on hearing loss. This featured personal testimony from Rebecca Easterbrook, who said:
“I was delighted to be asked to share my personal story of hearing loss at the joint Enabling/PRIDE conference. Hearing loss affects 1 in 6 of the population, which is why Enabling has chosen to begin our Disability Awareness campaign with this issue.
“The Hearing Awareness campaign is aimed at providing information, support and signposting to internal and external sources, for employees with hearing loss, their managers and colleagues. If anyone is willing to share their personal story, please let me know.”
Feedback from those who attended the conference included this comment from Chris Rison: “It was my first time at this famous annual event and what an inspiration and energising day it was.”