Cat: So lovely to meet you, Graeme. Did you want to tell us a bit about yourself?
Graeme Whippy, Disability Specialist: Sure. I’m Graeme, my gig in life is I help employers be brilliant at employing disabled people. Right now I’m working at Channel 4 as their disability specialist.
I initially started to help them become even better at employing disabled people and I’m also supporting and helping them encourage all their independent production companies and their suppliers and partners to also get better at employing disabled people so we can change TV.
Cat: Lovely. Are there any differences that you’ve found in how small businesses are versus big businesses in terms of supporting people with MS and other long-term disabilities?
Graeme Whippy : It’s an interesting question. It cuts both ways. So just to put it in context, I worked for many years at Lloyds Banking Group, and that’s what, about 80, 85,000 people, and I was a disability manager, there so I helped them improve their practices and what have you. And then I’ve come to Channel 4 where it’s probably about 850 people.
So quite a big difference in size. And it’s really interesting how many of the problems are exactly the same across the two sizes of organisation. And I think for, if you’re looking at a tiny little company like a corner shop, where there’s just half a dozen people, that is a different situation yet again. So let’s start down there.
If it’s a tiny, tiny company, then they’re closer to the person, they’ll probably be using Access to Work for advice and then what Access to Work recommend in terms of the adjustments and changes, the small company can accommodate. You then come to a company like Channel 4, it gets more difficult using external advice like Access to Work. It’s slightly bigger in terms of the number of people involved in supporting disabled people, you don’t know everybody on a personal basis. And then you go to a much bigger company.
Now they’ve got all the resources at hand that they need, but it’s a really complicated machine when it comes to sorting out people’s individual needs and accommodating them. So, quite frankly, I think for any company above half a dozen people, it can get quite challenging.
Cat: So you’re not saying there’s a one-size-fits-all approach?
Graeme Whippy : Definitely not a one-size-fits-all. I mean what I do think is that there’s a common approach that we can take. So what I did at Lloyds, I’ve implemented here at Channel 4 and it works really, really well.
I mean I’m thinking of the process to implement workplace adjustments, for example. That works regardless of the company size. Until you get down to the very small companies, then I think they do need a separate approach because they don’t have the in-house expertise.
Cat: Is there anywhere that someone could get that information that you’ve kind of been
working on, is there anything public that might be available to read?
Graeme Whippy: Yes. Channel 4 actually, I’ve written a guide to employing disabled talent for them. It’s aimed at the TV sector, but that’s simply because we wanted to bring the indies, the independent production companies on the journey with us.
So the examples are all TV related, but the information in that guide is applicable to any company working in any sector. And it’s a good read actually, not just for the employer but also for disabled employees, because it kind of tells them how their employer should be behaving.
Cat: Interesting though, yes. Thank you.
MS Reporter : Cat
MS Expert : Graeme Wippy, Disability specialist.