At Kingsley Napley we are committed to ensuring that our disability performance ratings are regularly reviewed by the organisation’s management team, and that policies are deeply embedded to ensure that people with disabilities are treated equally. In addition, by supporting the (Dis)ability Network, I, as Senior Partner, have committed to raise awareness of this issue both at a senior management level and throughout the firm.
The Valuable 500 requires us to make a commitment to one action. I can report that we have a number of live projects that illustrate our commitment. They are:
1. The establishment of a (Dis)ability Network whose over-arching goal is to raise awareness of different types of disabilities (both visible and invisible) and create a safe space for people to speak out about their disabilities in order for us to help and support them. The stated aims of the network are to:
- Raise awareness of what disability is (visible, invisible, physical, psychological).
- Answer the question: Is this a disability?
- Educating people in relation to disabilities and how you relate to people with disabilities.
- Dispel some of the myths around disability.
- Ensure that people check their language in relation to disability issues.
- Ask the question: how can the employer help?
- Build closer relationships with clients with disabilities.
- Encourage people with disabilities not to self-select away from applying for jobs at Kingsley Napley.
- Identify areas where Kingsley Napley fall short of our commitment to create a workspace that is inclusive of people with disability (particularly as we prepare to move).
- Consider and discuss the impact of disability of a loved one for members of KN.
- Work closely with wellbeing and charities to ensure the needs of the KN workforce are being met.
2. We have set up an internal portal page which has a subpage entitled “What is a Disability?” which discusses the definition of the Disability Act and also reminds people that a lot of disabilities are invisible.
3. To bring the issue ‘home’ we have a page entitled “What does disability mean for you and people you know?” on which we have published stories of people within the firm who have felt comfortable talking about disability and how it has affected them either directly or indirectly.
4. We recognise that not everybody feels ready to share their stories in a public forum but that there will be a significant number within our employee population who have ‘lived experience’ of certain conditions. To encourage confidential sharing of information we have created a ‘conditions list’ on our portal.
Human Resources hold a confidential list with a name against each condition of somebody who has ‘lived experience’ of that condition and, on a confidential basis, would be prepared to share their experiences with someone who is coming to terms with a diagnosis on that list. The purpose is simply to provide pastoral support, somebody to have a cup of tea and a chat with.
We are careful to ensure, through a series of simple steps, that both people are comfortable with their confidential information being shared before the names are exchanged.
5. Having addressed issues internally, we are starting to face outwards, for example we publish blogs and we are looking to pool our legal expertise to create a Disabled Clients’ Forum.
The final commitment that I have been asked to make is that I will share the identified actions with my organisation. I hope the actions list above shows that they are already being shared. The commitment that we make is to continue engaging with the topic and constantly striving to ensure that we are living by the values of the Valuable 500.