There are more than 11 million disabled people in the UK, and shockingly, just 6% of those who are able to work are in employment. Even today, there is so much stigma around people with disabilities and how they fit into the workplace. According to statistics published by the charity Leonard Cheshire, 1 in 6 of us will be affected by disability at some point in our lives and for many of us, it will be the hardest thing we ever have to face.
8 out of 10 people with a disability weren’t born with it – the vast majority become disabled through an injury, accident, heart attack, stroke or conditions like MS and motor neurone disease. Sadly, people living with disabilities are far less likely to be employed than non-disabled people due to a number of factors, one of them being that disabled people are around three times as likely not to hold any qualifications compared to non-disabled people.
Fewer than 50% of working-age disabled people are in work, compared to 75% of non-disabled people, but disabled people’s day to day living costs are 25% higher than those of non-disabled people. These figures help highlight the problems many disabled people face day to day and may give an insight into why there may still be stigma attached to disability in general, but also in the workplace.
This stigma can lead to individuals feeling isolated and separate from society, as they don’t see themselves moving in the same direction as their non disabled siblings and friends. It can be hard for the individual but also the families due to the available social circle decreasing drastically after leaving government funded education.
One problem the disabled community face is the fact that non-disabled people aren’t taught and exposed to disabilities very often. This creates ignorance and the social stigma of there being ‘us’ and ‘them’, which is something that needs to change. Things like Channel 4’s critically acclaimed show The Undateables focuses on adults with disabilities finding love. While this is not strictly to do with disabled people in the workplace, it does open up and expose the normality of disability to the general population – something that employing disabled people also does.
Working life helps introduce everyone to a wide variety of new people. There are a few schemes, like Mencap’s Employ Me scheme and the US based company Opportunity Works, that aims to put more people with disabilities into work. These schemes provide appropriate training to develop the skills needed to get a paid job, experience in a real working environment, CV writing and interview preparation, help to learn new skills and cope with change and the schemes work with businesses employing people with a learning disability, so they can provide the right support and benefit from having a diverse workforce.
These kind of schemes are increasingly important to people living with a disability, as it instils so much more confidence, a strong sense of independence and initiates a bridge between people with disabilities and those without. On one hand, the person with a disability has the chance and opportunity to make friends and build relationships with people other than their carers or family members. On the other hand, research performed by Mencap states that disability employment helps teach and familiarise non disabled people with disabilities and helps change attitudes and challenge misconceptions around all forms of disabilities in the UK.
In a Forbes article written in 2012 by Opportunity Works’ co-founder and COO Judy Owen, she states that “Employers reported that providing [work] resulted in such benefits as retaining valuable employees, improving productivity and morale, reducing workers’ compensation and training costs, and improving company diversity.” These positives highlight that including a disabled person in the workforce increases the moral of the workforce as a whole and benefits employers to get involved in these schemes too.
Disability in the workplace should be celebrated and utilised as much as possible. There are so many positives, such as improving current employee satisfaction, improving company diversity and creating new possibilities and opportunities for those who may not be able to do it for themselves. Many employers have stated that disabled employees have a higher job satisfaction, have less sick days and are late less, hardworking, friendly honest and dependable. In the individual, it helps create confidence and a sense of independence that so many people, whether they were born disabled or have become so, unfortunately lack. This gives disabled people the chance to earn their own money to be able to pay for things like holidays and days out themselves without having to rely on family members, carers or the government – a priceless feeling that you cannot get from anything else. One of Mencap’s Employ Me scheme clients stated that it “feels good to be earning money, it helps me do new things and gives me a sense of achievement”. This solidifies that including disabilities in the workplace is successful for both employer, but more importantly the employee.
Article written by Rosie Sanderson.
For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.
DAMIANO’s INTERVIEW for THE GUILDHALL SCHOOL of BUSINESS and LAW
This week’s blog is dedicated to an interview Seable’s CEO Damiano La Rocca gave to Rita Bressi, a student from the Guildhall School of Business and Law. We are proud Seable’s model had such impact on Rita that she decided to use our story for her student’s project. As with everything we do at Seable, we hope to keep having an impact on young people. Please enjoy this essay by Rita.
Brief introduction to my entrepreneur’s company:
Last November, thanks to my university, I had the great opportunity to attend a meeting at the ‘Accelerator’ where I met two entrepreneurs who operate in London. Both of the ideas were really interesting but one in particular have had a huge impact on me. Damiano La Rocca is a 29 years old Italian guy who has been living in London for ten years. He have studied International Tourism Management and in 2013 founded ‘Seable’, a company which organises trips for invalid people.
–Interview (Appendix 3)
I conducted the interview on the 10th of February over the phone. It has lasted over 30 minutes and I asked him mainly open constructive questions about his leadership style, his personality and moreover some details about his company.
Like the majority of the young entrepreneurs, Damiano presented his idea at the ‘Accelerator’. He said he has worked really hard with a team of people who were trying to launch their businesses as well. Unfortunately, the first attempt didn’t go through and Damiano lost his opportunity. Nevertheless, ‘Accelerator’ found his idea so innovative that it decided to reward him by providing with some capitals to sustain the primary costs (such as market research, insurance, license and permit fees, advertising and promotion and employees expenses) and by offering him an office for two years. (Interview)
According to Linda Applegate, people should identify the unique skills and behaviors who make an entrepreneur successful rather than focusing on entrepreneurial ‘personality’ (Applegate,2016 p. 1).
Through a survey, a literature review were able to understand and demonstrate the level of comfort and self-confidence people have towards several dimensions of entrepreneurial leadership.
The survey came out that founders, compared to non founders, show a higher ‘comfort with uncertainty’, identification of opportunities, vision and influence.
This aspect applies to Damiano La Rocca as he is very confident with uncertainty and he does not feel threatened from it. Moreover, despite the young age, he has been able to catch a glimpse of the opportunity through a market research and took advantage from it in order to establish and develop his company. He had a vision and he made it come true. Besides, as every leader should, he has the ability to influence his team and makes it gain the best results to meet the organisational vision.
Differentiation between male and female entrepreneurs (Appendix 4):
The article also shows some key differences between male and female entrepreneurs, for example, women seem to be more confident in the ability to ‘efficiently manage operations’, to create unique visions and, lastly be influent. On the contrary men demonstrate a wider confidence when in comes to ‘comfort with uncertainty’ and financial management. This last theory cannot be applied to my entrepreneur as he confessed he has not high financial skills, indeed he had hired an accountant who takes care of the expenditures. ”I am not very good at managing financial so I hired an accountant” -Damiano La Rocca. (Interview
Differentiating ‘serial founders’ and ‘first time founders’
The big gap between serial founders and first time founders is also discussed in this study.
‘Serial founders appear more comfortable with managing uncertainty and risks’ (Kraus, J. 2016)
In Kraus’ opinion, serial founders often like establishing and launching new businesses where risks are highest. This because they enjoy creating clarity from uncertainty.’
Again, this is not Damiano’s case. In fact, he stated he does not like running risks and he acts only when he’s sure he is going to succeed.
‘Authenticity as emerged as the gold standard for leadership’ (Harvard Business Review, 2015)
Recently, three scholars argued about Authentic Leadership.
According to Jeff Preferer, a leader should not be authentic at crucial moments; Adam Granit stated: ‘be yourself is actually a terrible advice, nobody wants to see your true self’. (Bill George, 2016 p.1)
Instead, Webster describes authenticity as ”real or genuine, not copied or false, true and accurated”. Authenticity comes from an old Greek world which means ‘author’. From this Warren Bennis stated ‘you are the author of your life’.
La Rocca strongly agrees with Bennis, as he explained he believes in destiny and he thinks everything happens for a reason. His father accident played an important role on the development of this opinion. ‘If you think about it’, he said, ‘If I wouldn’t moved to London, I would have never felt my home’s nostalgia and therefore I would never established my business.’ (Interview)
-Low self-monitors VS High self-monitors
Two types of authentic leadership have been distinguished by Ibarra: Low self-monitors and High self-monitors. People of the first category tend to say everything that comes to their mind, instead, people who belong to the second group watch carefully what they say because of the impact they can have on others. (Ibarra, 2016 p.1)
Damiano is definitely a high self-monitors. He is aware of the strong influence he has on his employees, for this reason he tends to be carefully whether his actions or words.
Indeed, according to Eagly authenticity emerges from the relationship between leaders and followers. It is a reciprocal process as leaders influence their followers and vice versa. (Eagly, 2005, cited in Northouse, 2012 p.254)
Ibarra believed low self-monitors is a sign of immaturity and insensibility to the feelings of others. Therefore, this is the opposite of being authentic leaders. In the light of this study, it can be said Damiano La Rocca is an authentic leader as he regularly involve people in deciding how to achieve the business’ goals, this help people feel like they belong to an organisation which cares about them. Moreover, he said he actively affect his team through his leadership style. Nevertheless, he also added sometimes this leadership style is not efficient as the way in which he acts influences positively or negatively his team. For example, when he is more strict and tight he can gain better results then he reaches when he is friendly and funny.
On the contrary, he defined himself as a ‘slave’ for his customers, they must be always right. He acts like this in particular for the kind of people his dealing with.
”Entrepreneurial marketing is the pro-active identification and exploitation of opportunities for acquiring and retaining profitable customers through alternative approaches to risk management, resource leveraging and value creation”. (Morris, Schindehutte and LaForge, 2002:2)
In this article the initial issue of every start-ups is discussed, that is ‘how to attract customers without any user’.
The first strategy is to prefer ‘digital marketing’ rathen than traditional mass media as they are more expensive. Digital marketing instead, allows companies to advertise for $10 a day.
This is basically what Damiano did, as he said, in the beginning he used social media in the beginning such as ‘Youtube’ in order to capture the attention of a wider range of customers.
The second one is called ‘Shifting trom supply to demand’ and it consists in asking people what they want and build it forward and envisioning the perfect experience and creating it backward. Once again, this plan is followed by La Rocca. In fact, he listens to his customers, their desires and objectives and looks for different ways to meet them. For his company this means building a trustworthy and strong reputation which is vitally important to attract more potential customers. (Thales Teixeira and Michael Blanding, 2016)
The main differences between social and individual entrepreneurship are outlined through this study. (Appendix 6)
”The older and still dominant American myth involves two kinds of actors: entrepreneurial heroes and industrial drones – the inspired and the perspired.” (Reich, 1987:78).
Individual entrepreneurship, as the name may suggests, involves individuals who take actions through innovation and opportunities running risks.
On the other hand, social entrepreneurship is characterised by a participant, a group of people or a network who undertake an holistic process to develop societal innovation. In this way they create favorable opportunities. Unlike individual entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship does not involve risk taking, nay, it tends to minimize it. (Herlau, H. & Tetzschner H, 1998)
Damiano La Rocca runs a social enterprise, indeed, he has a conflictual relationship with challenges, he usually faces them up just if he is sure he can win and if he is confident enough. He doesn’t like risking. However he states the biggest challenge has been starting his business.
Despite Damiano has done a great job so far, he should be more confident in risk taking in order to expand his company abroad and enter new markets even if this wouldn’t allow him to go back to his homeland very often. Moreover, I would recommend him to improve his financial skills: La Rocca should takes charge of the financial management or, at least, having the necessary competencies to check on the accountant’s work. In order to achieve this, he could follow some course in his free time or do some researches on his own.
Besides, the marketing strategies could also be improved. Employees take care of the advertising and it looks like they did it well. However, I would advice Damiano to hire a marketing company to supply a stronger advertising which can have a bigger impact on wider range of people.
In the beginning this will raise the costs, but it is a good investment as it is going to make the company more popular, attract more customers and therefore, earn more money.
By interviewing my entrepreneur, analysing his responses and using academic articles helped me understanding leadership and entrepreneurship more deeply.
In the beginning I though people usually born with the skills necessary to make them entrepreneurs, instead by looking at Drucker’s study I now know that I was wrong. This made me feel more comfortable as I understood I can actually learn how to be a good entrepreneur and thus, how to achieve success in the future. (Drucker, 1982: 143)
Using Amabile’s research I have learned more about creativity and innovation, what they are and how to improve them. (Amabile, 1996 p.49)
Through Applegate’s study I understood how to start a business and what uncertainty actually means for entrepreneurs, how an entrepreneur manages risks and financial implicationshow male and female entrepreneurs are different from each other. (Applegate, 2016)
By analasying Bill George’s research I am now aware of authenticity really means for leaders and entrepreneurs, how important it is and how to develop and establish a strong and efficient relationship with customers and leaders. (Bill George, 2016)
Teixeira and Blanding’s article is the one I have loved the most. Attracting customers in order to make a business grow is not easy and they have proven some marketing strategies can actually change a business’ fate. This study is inspiring as it also encourages changes and therefore, it makes readers braver in decision making. (Teixeira and Blanding, 2016)
I am now aware there are various kind of businesses and each one has to be managed in and by different ways and leaders. By taking into account Tetzshner, Helge, Herlau and Henrik’s work I am now able to differentiate between Social and Individual Entrepreneurship. (Tetzschner, H. and Herlau, H. 2003)
In addition I have learned how to interview somebody, how to develop question from academia, using combinations to discuss open questions (What, how..why) and closed (do you, do this) I understood the differences between them and this can help me in approaching people as I am not a confident person. In terms of practice I now know the risks, the behaviors and what entrepreneurs actually do within their businesses.
In conclusion, the most interesting part in this assignment for me, has been researching numerous author’s point of views and critiques. By doing this I have also learned how to link various concepts even from different lectures and modules. I think this is the most important skill a student can develop as it helps enriching personal culture and develop flexibility in thinking.
For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.
If you wanted to find out how good that shop is down the road, there’s a bunch of apps and websites that could help you out. But what about if you have a disability and you need to find out if they have the right facilities to suits you best?
People with disabilities living in Victoria and New South Wales (Australia) can now do it, and all thanks to Clickability.
Clickability is a new website funded by two Australian women in Melbourne, with the intent of helping people with disabilities find the help they need. How does it work? Simple, it’s an online directory that allows local disability care and support options to be listed, rated and reviewed.
Jenna Moffat and Aviva Beecher Kelk both come from a background as social workers (picture: thecusp.com.au)
Dubbed by some a “TripAdvisor for disability support services,” the concept developed by Jenna Moffat and Aviva Beecher Kelk is impressive. Their intent is to target anyone affected by a disability and empower them with a unique chance to be able to pick and choose what service really suits them, rather than having to adapt to whatever is on offer.
The source of this idea comes from Beecher and Jenna’s background as social workers. They came up with the idea while after noticing that they kept having to reach out to their professional networks or use Google to find support networks for clients.
“We were gatekeeping so much information, I was literally calling people I did my Masters with to ask about homelessness services, for example, or domestic violence services,” and also “We just saw this huge gap there in terms of consumer rights … In this industry, that’s a gap in human rights as well,” said Aviva.
In few words, Clickability places information on disability services all in one place.
A key point about the startup is that its mission aligns with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a significant social welfare project for people living with disabilities being rolled out by the Australian government.
Aviva added: ‘We just saw this huge gap there in terms of consumer rights … In this industry, that’s a gap in human rights as well.’
Under the NDIS, support services will have to see people with disabilities as customers, she explained.
As Aviva pointed out, people with disabilities on the NDIS are in many cases expected to make their own decisions about which support service to choose. “Government money used to go to service providers to distribute services, and it’s now going to individuals to purchase the services that suit themselves,” she explained.
“Likewise, consumers have to start thinking about themselves as customers. How do I assert my customer rights? How do I articulate what I need? How do I get what I need?”
Unfortunately, in her view, the information to back up that decision-making is just not there, and it’s certainly not the kind of relevant, reliable peer-generated information that exists in other industries. That’s where Clickability comes in.
To list and rate services is free on Clickability, but subscribers can reply to comments and personalise their page, among other features. The next step in Clickability’s development will be to make it easier to use for visually impaired and blind people.
“The big thing for us is how do we make this accessible for people with intellectual disabilities?” says Aviva. “We also collect [reviews] in-person sometimes at conferences and events from people with all sorts of different access needs. It’s really important to us to find a way that everyone can have a voice.”
For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.
Accessible Holidays: On March 1st on the morning of the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting at Stoke Mandeville, 25 of Europe’s leading lights in the Accessible Tourism Field gathered for a workshop at the Oculus in Aylesbury to share best practice and to see how new standards relating to more inclusive visitor standards could be delivered as the norm rather than as glorious exceptions.
The workshop had been organised by the Buckinghamshire Legacy Board in partnership with the Buckinghamshire Disability Service who have stated their ambition that Buckinghamshire should reflect its position as the Birthplace of the Paralympic movement by also becoming the most accessible visitor destination in Britain. To do this they aim to encourage through a new Buckinghamshire wide Destination Management Organisation, attractions, accommodation providers, transport and hospitality providers to all aspire to the “Stoke Mandeville Standard” around accessible tourism visitor experience.
Ross Calladine, Accessible Tourism Manager for Visit England helped set the scene by outlining the national context where Visit England have secured regional growth funding to work alongside a number of destinations to develop new visitor guides and promotional material based on the visitor experience rather than any perceived barriers to services. This approach was supported by accessible tourism Brian Seaman who explained that the most important skill for a tourism business was to listed to its customers and to make sure it adapted its services to their needs, he said that the most important message he could provide to any tourism business looking to make its service more accessible was “customer service, is what the customer thinks it is.”
This ethos became a recurring theme of the workshop with many speakers saying how they had benefitted from taking personal care with all of their customers and how by doing the right thing they had also benefitted their overall profitability. Geraldine Lundy, Head of Accessibility from Virgin Atlantic explained their philosophy which was based on a total customer experience and highlighted how by employing people with different disabilities had given the company a competitive edge and better insight into all of its customers. This approach wasn’t just benefitting large organisations, but was even more effective for small and growing businesses Bob Griffin from Tomkat Trikes, an award winning engineering firm specialising in custom build bikes and trikes for disabled children, explained that his business follows a process of constantly learning, innovating and inventing to delivering individual solutions for its customers and delivering great rewards for all involved.
Quite appropriately on a day in which the flame for the Sochi Winter Games was lit, it was a visitor from Sweden, the country that hosted the first Paralympic Winter Games, had the clearest message for delegates. Magnus Berglund from Scandic Hotels, one of the fastest growing hotel chains in Europe, said simply that “I can get you more business” he explained that Scandic had adopted a simple 110 point standard many of which were mandatory for all of its hotels. Many of the standards such as providing a stick holder in all receptions were extremely cheap to implement but had proved instrumental in increasing the profitability for the hotel chain.
Double award winner tour operator Seable Holidays, shared his passion for making exciting accessible holidays, creating a fully accessible offer that includes sport activities, cultural excursions and gastronomic experiences. The model has worked so far and Damiano La Rocca, the director of the company, is looking to add a number of UK based destination holidays that will allow local and international tourists to explore the accessible offers available.
The delegates agreed that 10 themes had emerged from a fascinating workshop session
• Always listen to and ask your customers • Don’t be fearful • Very often accessibility costs very little • Where you can, keep it simple • Embrace innovation • Share knowledge & learning Involve all of your staff • Doing the right thing can also be financially rewarding • In the UK we do many aspects of visitor accessibility very well • We need to share and celebrate best practice more widely throughout the UK and internationally
At the end of the morning session, all of the delegates agreed that they had benefitted greatly from the workshop and agreed to work together to start planning for a much larger event linked to the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting for the 2016 Rio Summer Games. [Tweet “Accessible Holidays: @BucksLegacy Accessible Tourism Seminar #accessibleholidays”]
CREDIT: VANOC/COVAN During both the Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays, the flame is passed from one torch bearer to the next. The Paralympic Games feature differently-abled athletes who compete in sport competitions.
Accessible Tourism, Saturday 1 March 2014 in preparation for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. As part of a programme of linked events highlighting the Paralympic Legacy in the UK, a Workshop on Accessible Tourism is to be held with the aim of showcasing good practice in accessible tourism in the UK and discussing how accessible tourism can be promoted and developed as part of the UK Paralympic. A number of key players in UK accessible tourism have been invited to the Workshop with the aim of bringing practitioners, policy-makers and accessible tourism specialists together for an informed and informal discussion.