Advising the Civil Service on Disability

This month (December 2021) Chris took part in a conversation on disability and leadership with civil service disability champion Sarah Healey. The event was hosted by the Treasury, chaired by Katharine Braddick and Will Garton and open to all departments. There was a great turn out and quality discussion which Chris then wrote about for Civil Service Magazine as ‘five suggestions for removing barriers to disabled people in the civil service‘.

Chris started by explaining his own experience of disability began when he lost his sight, age 14. Since then he has been involved in the Paralympic movement (both as a swimmer and later a director at London 2012) and has served as a non-executive director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Channel 4. As a parliamentarian his policy interest spans departments but can be best summarised as a focus on inclusion and digital technologies for the public good. Chris has also advised the civil service on diversity and written an independent review for the Cabinet Office on how to open up public appointments to disabled people.

One observation made during the discussion was about the vast number of reports that are produced within the civil service setting out how to remove barriers for disabled people, often with a heavy focus on the disabled individuals, whether that be development programmes, mentoring, networks and so on. Whilst many of these recommendations may well be useful they are heavily skewed towards looking at the disabled people as both the problem and the way to fix the problem. The other, far more effective, way to approach this challenge is through addressing the behaviours and culture of the organisation and individuals within it.

With this in mind Chris set out five practical suggestions that we can all consider doing to remove barriers to disabled people….

Civil Service World Magazine, Five suggestions for removing barriers to disabled people in the civil service, Lord Chris Holmes, 3rd December 2021