At Barclays we take a holistic approach to supporting colleagues with disabilities throughout their time with us – from the application process right through to when they’re working for us and wanting to get on and get up in the organisation.
By David Caldwell
Over the last few years, we’ve been working hard to improve our workplace adjustments process that provides a wide range of support, including physical adjustments to enable colleagues to achieve their potential. Many of the improvements have been aimed at the experience our colleagues have of getting access to adjustments – enabling them to access a wide range of adjustments without needing an assessment or line manager approval to get them. By creating a self-service route and providing a centralised budget we’ve enabled colleagues to access quicker adjustments – allowing them to be more effective at work.
Through our holistic approach we’ve also been working to provide different types of support to colleagues with disabilities through our disability network – Reach. The network provides awareness for all colleagues around the topics of disability and mental health and specific support and development opportunities for colleagues with disabilities including access to forums of colleagues with similar experiences, professional and personal development opportunities as well as volunteering opportunities.
In 2014, we launched ‘This is me’, a mental health awareness campaign which uses colleague stories to provide the human side of mental health and increase understanding of mental health in the workplace. The campaign was a big success and so we built upon this and in 2015 launched the second phase which continued with mental health issues but also included other areas of disability. This is me has become an important aspect of our approach to supporting colleagues with disabilities by role-modelling successful colleagues as well as creating a community of colleagues who share their own stories and support each other informally. The campaign also gave us the opportunity to create some new resources including our ‘little guide to…’ series that provides pocket sized hints and tips to support colleagues and line managers.
As much as it’s important to support those already employed by us, we know that historically the Financial Services industry has been perceived as not being an option for people with disabilities. We’re committed to changing that perception and have instigated a number of initiatives including a focus on disability within our apprenticeship programme, our work with Great with Disability and increasing the awareness of our recruitment teams through a programme called ‘Living in our colleagues world’ which uses colleagues and simulation tools to help build understanding of disability.
Whilst we recognise the importance of behind the counter diversity, we also recognise that it’s important to provide support to our customers through specialised services. In recent years, we’ve launched a number of these services including talking ATMs and high visibility debit cards which have been really successful and received great feedback from customers and charities. Our most recent innovation was SignVideo in branch. The service allows customers who are British Sign Language users to access instant and secure translation whilst in branch – allowing them to bank whenever they want to rather than needing to book an appointment in advance. More information about our accessible services can be found at: www.barclays.co.uk/accessibility
We’ve also been working hard to become a more disability confident organisation for our customers and have invested heavily in training and support for our colleagues in our branches and contact centres. In 2013, we launched ‘Day in my life’ a training programme that followed the lives of Barclays customers and how they access our products and services. The training provides practical advice and support to colleagues to help them ensure that the experience of our disabled customers is as good as our non-disabled customers.