Tag Archives: disability

New report finds lack of progress on govt diversity commitments.

Two years after Lord Holmes Review into opening up public appointments to disabled people a progress report finds recommendations and Diversity Action Plan still to be implemented.

Today, 3rd December 2020, at an online event attended by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden MP, Chris launched a new report that highlighted the need for action to implement government diversity commitments.

This ‘progress report’ comes exactly two years after the Holmes Review into opening up public appointments to disabled people was published on 3rd December 2018. The original 2018 review analysed the barriers, blockers, and bias which resulted – at that time – in just 180 out of around 6,000 public appointments being held by disabled people.

The 2018 review set out 29 clear, practical and achievable recommendations, all of which were accepted in principle by the Government at the time. Two years on, this report examines how many of those recommendations have been fully incorporated into the operation of the public appointments process and what impact this has had on the number of disabled people applying for and becoming public appointees.

Public appointments are significant positions that have an impact on all our lives but are not, perhaps, well known or understood. Collectively public appointees are responsible for well over £200 billion of public funds administered through over 500 bodies across, for example, healthcare, education, sport and the arts, energy, security and defence.

This two years on ‘progress report’ considered the original recommendations, traced those recommendations so far as they were reflected in the Government’s Diversity Action Plan 2019 and tried, as far as is possible, to assess whether those commitments have been achieved and where further effort is still needed.

Disappointingly, the figures for new appointments and reappointments declaring a disability have fallen each year and there has been a significant lack of progress in terms of steps taken to deliver on commitments laid out in the Diversity Action Plan.  It is important to note, though targets, quite rightly have been set for the numbers of female and BAME public appointees, still today, no such target has yet been set for disabled people. 

Lord Holmes Review, Gov.uk 

Public Appointments Diversity Action Plan, Gov.uk

Why do we still have a disability employment gap 25 years after the Disability Discrimination Act?, Chris’s Blog

Disabled jobseekers ‘still face barriers to public sector roles’, Personnel Today

Annual Report, Commissioner for Public Appointments

Cabinet Office Outlines new Public Appointments Diversity Plan, Civil Service World

Lord Holmes Review Published

Seated at table facing audience; left to right: Grace Quantock, Matthew Campbell-Hill, Carly Jones, Chris Holmes, Oliver Dowden MP
Launch of Lord Holmes Review, Whitehall, 3rd December 2018

Today, to coincide with UN Day of People with Disabilities, my independent review into disability and public appointments will be launched in Westminster. Currently just 3% of public appointees declare a disability. An absolutely shocking figure. That is 180 people out of 6000 public appointments on 500 bodies responsible for £200 billion of public funds across, but not limited to: healthcare, education, the criminal justice system, energy, security and defence. These are significant positions that have an impact on all our lives.

When the Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden, invited me to conduct the review he made the point that it is essential that public appointees are truly representative of the society they serve. I completely agree. I believe it is also about talent and this is a core principle underpinning the review. We must access and enable talent in its broadest most brilliant form, not just that of a tiny elite. So much talent is currently sadly wasted, often as  a result of inaccessible, non inclusive, non innovative approaches, practices and cultures.

I agreed to lead this independent review to uncover the reasons for this shocking – 3% – statistic. To discover and fully expose the barriers, blockers and bias but, most importantly, to set out ambitious,  achievable recommendations to make long-overdue change.

A key recommendation is that the Government set a target of 11.3% of all public appointees to be disabled people. .  Other recommendations focus on consistent, comprehensive data collection and transparency alongside a more innovative and flexible approach at all stages of the recruitment process.

Opening up public appointments to disabled talent is not looking to give anyone an unfair advantage. An equitable, inclusive, fully accessible and positive process puts everyone on the same start line. It allows everyone to run whatever race they choose with fairness, dignity and respect throughout. A guaranteed interview is not a leg up, it’s a tool to allow someone with valuable lived experience to get in front of an interview panel. Offering alternative ways to apply is not giving a neuro-diverse person an edge, it may well be the difference which means someone could apply at all.

The review benefitted greatly from the contributions of the nearly two hundred members of the public who responded to our call for evidence as well as Disabled Peoples Organisations, Ministers of State, Civil Servants and Public Appointees. Individual stories and experiences are the most powerful case for change as well as understanding the status quo. As one respondent said “access is not just physical, it’s emotional and attitudinal.”

Although the recommendations are focussed on increasing the number of disabled applicants, interviewees and appointees, I believe that they could have general applicability and benefits in many situations, across public appointments and to all talent acquisition and recruitment practices.

Positive change requires leadership, culture and innovation and I am convinced that substantial, sustainable change is possible. It will not be easy but it is absolutely achievable. Currently, talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. I hope this review and its recommendations will play some part in addressing this avoidable failing.

Let’s turn this public Dis-appointment into an opportunity to show that we are a country that enables and empowers all our talent, not least, that held by disabled people across the nation.

The Review is available in full and in accessible formats on Gov.UK.

Chris to chair Global Disability Innovation Hub

The announcement was made at the launch on London Tech Week which the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, opened today (12th June 2017). The Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) is London’s new disability innovation research centre, bringing together disabled people, technology, academics, innovators, corporates and the local community to explore disability innovation from a new perspective. The full GDI Hub Board was also announced today. There are fifteen members from three continents and two thirds of the Board are people with disabilities.

Chris said “I am absolutely delighted to Chair the GDI Hub and to be a part of a project with such potential to transform lives. I have personally benefited from assistive technology and believe truly inclusive design not only removes barriers to disabled people but also, essentially, benefits everyone by leading to ground breaking technological solutions or applications and truly excellent design. Technology is neutral but is an incredible tool in the hands of humans and the ways in which we respond to the 4th industrial revolution and the benefits we achieve will be a measure of our civilisation. I’m looking forward to the role the GDI Hub will play in this mission, we have a brilliant team and I relish the challenge before us.”

Also at today’s event, the Mayor officially opened Plexal, Europe’s newest technology innovation destination, forming Europe’s biggest business innovation ecosystem at Here East. Spanning 68,000 square feet, Plexal has been built on the principles of a mini City & will support 800 technology start-ups & global corporations from across the world.

Another former British Paralympic gold medallist, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson joined Chris on stage to launch The Global Disability Innovation Programme, a new accelerator designed to encourage the development of technologies to improve the lives of people living with disabilities.

The programme, which is run in partnership with Plexal and UCL, will bring together disabled and able-bodies experts, users and start-ups with larger companies to accelerate the development of innovative businesses and products around disability.

Entrepreneurs and start-ups on the programme will focus on the development of innovations in areas such as accessible and affordable housing, transportation and how big data and analytics can be used to have a positive impact on the lives of disabled people around the world.

Global Disability Innovation Hub Website

Daily Mail

Evening Standard

Startups