Research and insight: Disability smart approaches to engaging suppliers and partners

Executive Summary

At Business Disability Forum (BDF) we have the pleasure of working with many businesses and public sector bodies that are determined to get better at securing great outcomes for their disabled colleagues, candidates and customers. There is a growing group of BDF Partners and Members that are leading at the front and becoming ever more innovative and creative in ensuring their disabled colleagues, candidates and customers are contributing at all levels and making their organisations more successful, productive and sustainable. 

We also know that the good work to build disability-smart organisations relies on suppliers having the right know-how to improve inclusion for all employees, candidates and customers, including those with disabilities. Not surprising when we consider that in 2013/14 the total contract value of UK public sector outsourcing agreements was £51 billion and for the commercial sector was £30 billion.

In the absence of disability-smart suppliers and partners, improved disability performance within organisations can be stymied. Disabled candidates don’t apply or get interviewed for roles, employees that acquire disabilities and health conditions are less likely to be retained, disabled customers move their business elsewhere and facilities become progressively more inaccessible as employees age and acquire disabilities and health conditions and visitors and customers find access challenging. 

At BDF, we also know that since 2004 when we first launched the BDF Disability Standard, this domain of the Disability Standard is where organisations tend to perform least well. To add to our suite of guidance, we have been prioritising sharing what works in achieving disability smart outcomes through work with suppliers.

This research study involved 16 organisations (14 private sector and 2 public sector) is part of adding to that knowledge base. This is intended to identify the common characteristics associated with ‘why disability-smart happens’ in work with suppliers and partners; and what typically gets in the way. Following on from this, we are delighted to signal that new guidance will be available for early 2017 that offers an integrated guide to what works at each stage of the commissioning/procurement cycle for procurement professionals. Stay tuned.

George Selvanera

Strategy & External Affairs Director


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