Charlene, Nikita, Mike, Phil and Dianne watching the Piccadilly Lights turn Purple for Purple Tuesday.

Getting used to Adam

Charlene, Nikita, Mike, Phil and Dianne watching the Piccadilly Lights turn Purple for Purple Tuesday.Getting used to Adam


‘Thank you, Adam. A really good presentation. And now if I may ask the first question?’

Apart from calling me the wrong name I thought the presentation had gone pretty well. It was last Friday, and I was representing Purple as part of the process for the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards. Purple is a Finalist in the Positive Social Impact category for our work on Purple Tuesday, which involved a 15-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of Q&As by the judging panel.

I am realising awards are an important part of growth and have a huge ripple effect internally, for external stakeholders and the wider public. It provides recognition for what you are doing – an invisible kitemark and a nod for being on the right track. If you get it right all staff can feel a sense of achievement and pride. And it builds credibility in your brand and your organisation. As we grow Purple Tuesday and really transform the customer experience for disabled people these types of awards become crucial.

The importance of the Award meant the process was even more nerve-wracking. The guidance had been clear the presentation would be halted after 15 minutes regardless. My spare room at home had been transformed by a Purple Tuesday banner as the backdrop, replacing the clothes horse and kids toys. And I knew I had to work the technology including the slides in concert with the words coming out of my mouth.

There were lessons I had learned from being on the other side of the online table as a judge. Conducting the presentation sitting on a bed was a complete no no. As is temporarily pausing the presentation to answer the door for your Amazon parcel. Stroking your cat doesn’t earn many marks, nor does keep moving on your swivel chair. And finally reading from a script gives the strong impression you don’t know your stuff, however much it is a temptation to ensure you don’t miss key points and you stick to time.

There were other key principles I knew I needed to apply. Remember to smile and blink. If you view our Purple videos, for some reason I find it a real challenge. Keeping points short and sharp and making every minute count, without coming across robotic. Again, I have sat as a judge and after 15 minutes have been none the wiser.

The category was positive social impact and every point needed to be orientated in that direction. Purple Tuesday has led to changing activities on the ground by businesses which had directly improved the customer experience of disabled people, as identified in surveys and wider feedback.  These activities range from online access audits, changing signage, frontline staff learning BSL words and staff wearing sunflower lanyards. The diversity of activities conveys the important point of Purple Tuesday impacting people with the widest range of impairments.

For business we could show a return on investment from the interventions put in place, and the increased confidence of staff in supporting disabled customers.

And for the wider public there has been increased awareness of the issues and brand recognition. Dropping in stats such as 13 million + reach and trending #3 worldwide on Twitter helps.

Talking stats, I also had to remember the key ones I have used for so long have recently changed. The £249 billion Purple Pound has increased to £274 billion; the percentage of disabled people in the UK is now 22%; and the loss to UK business from the Click-Away Pound (those people who leave a website due to poor accessibility/poor customer service) is now a staggering £17.1 billion and climbing rapidly. Purple will be producing some updated infographics which we will share with you in the coming weeks.

What would it mean for Purple Tuesday to win the Award was the final question. It would certainly accelerate the spread of growth – I estimated it would catapult our development by two years against current forecasts. It would be celebrated by over 2,500 organisations who employ over 1 million staff, who would have been part of that achievement. And it would lead to transformation – rather than improvement – in the customer experience for disabled people which is our mission.

I have been called many names in my life.  At one government department the staff on reception called me Stephen for three years!  If we win this Award, I might seriously consider changing my name to Adam. Watch this space, or more precisely my email signature.

Mike Adams
CEO, Purple
15 September2020

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