Blog by Mike Adams
2017 has been the year Purple firmly put itself on the map. We are an organisation that works to transform the lives of disabled people. And the organisation that has made disability a business leadership issue.
This time last year Purple was in the midst of tendering for a contract held by our predecessor organisation, ecdp. It was a critical moment. Could we demonstrate we were able to provide a level of continuity for disabled people but provide something very different and modern – in terms of a digital offer. And would commissioners buy into a new organisation.
I am pleased to say the answer was yes and yes. And we have now won two further existing contracts and three others in new areas. One in the North-East, one in the Midlands and one in East Anglia. Purple is expanding but more importantly we are able to support an increasing number of disabled people.
And supporting more disabled people to achieve greater choice, control and independence over their lives is one of our three key goals. The others being to support organisations across the private, public and voluntary sectors to build their disability capability and capacity. And then to bring the two communities – disabled people and organisations – together to affect real change.
We have a growing number of customers who have gone on their Disability Confident journey with Purple in 2017. A blog is not the place to provide a roll call, but we have this year validated organisations as Disability Confident Leaders, including Arsenal Football Club, The Scottish Government, The Guinness Trust Partnership, Ambitious about Autism, Evenbreak and Essex County Council. Purple has over 10 other organisations in the pipeline for validation before the end of March 2018.
But it is so much more than simply validating a process. We have needed to make, and win the argument, that disability has commercial and social value to a business.
In November this year I stepped onto the stage at the Institute of Directors Annual Conference in Scotland, in front of 100 business leaders, to test out whether our theory had resonance. I am already committed to visiting Scotland two or three more times in early 2018 so I guess the argument must have passed the litmus test.
I am very proud we have started to bring the two communities together which was our third goal. In the last month we have seen three participants from our disability employment programme get permanent jobs in organisations on their Disability Confident journey. And more are in the pipeline. We are also starting to get traction with our Help Me Spend My Money campaign (helpmespendmymoney.com) which is a call to action for businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors to improve access and customer service to disabled consumers – and tap into the Purple Pound.
One final reflection which is more mundane but probably one of the most important. We achieved a nationally accredited quality mark for the activities and underpinning processes we deliver.
Last week in our final webinar of the year (https://wearepurple.org.uk/purpleportal/2017/11/17/looking-ahead-to-2018-whats-your-organisations-new-year-resolutions/) I made two predictions for 2018 – one quite bold and the other less so because I know it is going to happen! I predicted this time next year all 20 clubs in the English Premier League will be Disability Confident accredited. The impact on the wider communities will be large and have a significant ripple effect. Watch this space as Purple works to make this happen.
Purple is currently working with KPMG to produce a guide on disability for Boards incorporating Company Secretaries and Governance leads. The guide will cover all facets of business responsibility and opportunity and I hope put disability in the Boardroom.
Purple will continue to expand – both geographically with new offices and in terms of the volumes of disabled people we support. Our business client base will continue to grow with a real focus on the SME community alongside the larger well-known brands.
Finally, I predict we will see more coming together of disabled people and businesses in positive ways which is the raison d’être of Purple.
On behalf of everybody at Purple thank you for all your support this year, have a great festive season and I look forward with excitement about the possibilities and potential 2018 will bring.