Blog by Mike Adams
Last Friday I presented at the Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland Annual Conference.
The theme of the conference was creativity, adaptability and innovation. In a workshop someone made the link between innovation and positive risk taking. The conference organisers certainly took a risk in making me a keynote speaker – disability is not a mainstream topic and disability as a business leadership issue is only starting to gain traction. However, it was a distraction from discussions on Brexit and increasing interest rates.
For Purple it was a great opportunity to test our narrative with a pure business audience. I think we came off quite well. We didn’t quite have the pizzazz of the Director of Design for Jaguar showing the futuristic vision of cars in 2040; we couldn’t capture the user journey of the new V and A museum in Dundee told by their curator; and we couldn’t tell the same level of stories as the Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
But we did set out a vision and opportunity for businesses in Scotland around disability both in terms of the consumer market and talent pool of future employees. The Purple Pound (the consumer spending power of disabled people and their families which equates to £249billion per year) argument was understood well but the feedback from many delegates was a need for them to walk first before they started running. In other words, they needed support to ensure they were doing the right things and meeting their (legal) obligations before building a commercial strategy.
They were bewildered at the number of disabled people not in work and acknowledged the role of businesses in rectifying the situation. But worried whether they had the tools to take positive action.
And they welcomed (I think) the challenge of Purple to work alongside them to make a tangible difference. But not at any price. There is a need, and rightly so, for us to prove our credentials. Our recently launched Purple Portal for businesses now has a 28-day free trial period before anyone has to pay a penny. I think that is right. We need to prove the value we can bring to your business, as well as the value of engaging positively with disability.
Over the past few months the IoD have shown real disability leadership. In addition to the IoD conference I am also leading a breakfast meeting with IoD Essex on 22 November. This will provide a good opportunity to show business and disability can fit well together and talk the same language. Purple is also looking forward to externally validating the IoD’s Level 3 (leadership) Disability Confident submission early in 2018. And we will work closely with IoD members in the next 12 months to support them to support their organisations to become Disability Confident.
Whether you are an IoD member or not we want to support you to turn your business purple. You can find out more about our Purple Portal, and the 28-day free trial here.