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  • Sasha Wight

Episode Transcript: Part Two - Disability Inclusion w/ Charlotte Faul



31:43.69

sashawight

Yeah, yeah, definitely really love that. Okay, so let's talk a little bit more about inclusive leadership and so we've spoken a lot on this podcast about the role of managers when it comes to employee experience I mean really they are.


31:47.60

Charlotte

Ah, good place to start.


32:03.26

sashawight

The custodians of your experience. They create the atmosphere for your employees day in day out and so when it comes to employee experience is the same to be said for disability inclusion when it comes to leadership is. Leadership and essential and integral part of disability inclusion.


32:26.23

Charlotte

Yes, it is and and actually the Bcg report that I mentioned where they came up with a 25% and even just anybody knowing what it's like working in a business with or without disability leadership line manager leadership as well I use the term leadership.


32:34.98

sashawight

Um.


32:37.61

sashawight

The.


32:46.46

Charlotte

A term for anybody in a business regardless of what level they're at who line manages but I think sometimes it's seen as more senior leaders. But yes line leadership. Um line Manager leadership and inclusive leadership at all levels is crucial for this.


32:59.50

sashawight

Yes, yeah.


33:05.50

Charlotte

People to feel confident and to get the most out of their teams. Um and to support the disabled employees to thrive and bring their bestelves to work and all of that This is absolutely important.


33:15.40

sashawight

Yeah, and would you say slightly different question is it the senior senior leaders the visible ones that make the biggest difference or would you say it is the line that that kind of very first line manager level that really helps to move the needle on this stuff. Because I think often when I look at organizations taking a stance on disability inclusion. In fact, any di topic. It's often. The senior leaders kind of setting the tone and kind of talking about how this is a priority for the organization. Is 1 more important than the other.


33:58.45

Charlotte

That's such a great question. Um, at the senior level. Yeah, no, no, it's really I'm looking at the ceilings. This is such an interesting question. My gut feel is line leadership for me.


34:00.95

sashawight

I repeat you on this out there.


34:15.60

Charlotte

Because of the impact you have day to day is if I had to pick I'd pick line leadership However, line leaders can only be as um, that there's only so much in the line reader's control.


34:18.75

sashawight

And.


34:28.14

sashawight

Yes.


34:31.19

Charlotte

So we need our senior leaders to absolutely be talking about it. We ideally need more disability representation at the senior leadership level. So there's I mean there's some stat like I can't remember but there's like none or like 3 100 leaders that have even shared a disability or or something like that's probably even less than that. So I think that makes a huge difference that helps people feel seen and heard and it helps disabled folk feel like they can see somebody like themselves at a senior leader leader level.


34:48.72

sashawight

Yeah.


35:02.24

sashawight

Yeah.


35:05.48

Charlotte

And we need senior leaders to put investment behind policy and um accommodations policies um policies and processes. So you know accessibility accessing um tech and anything that someone might need within the workspace. But actually there are businesses that have all of that yet a disabled employee can still have a bad experience if within their day-to-day The part of the world that they know at work that their their line leader isn't comfortable talking about it.


35:29.67

sashawight

Yeah.


35:38.59

Charlotte

I mean I've had not I was very lucky I had and a very um inclusive line leader but I have had other senior leaders say things to me like you know I know you won't want to talk about it I won't I won't ask you about it. Um, and you know assumptions that very quickly kind of.


35:44.37

sashawight

At length.


35:51.83

sashawight

Yeah.


35:56.37

Charlotte

Made me not feel mainly feel. You know like they what I obviously just felt very uncomfortable talking about disability. So the like leader meet the day-to-day. Psychologically safe space and environment that they create and the advocacy I Really want to mention this because and this is jumping a bit too.


35:59.74

sashawight

And.


36:14.19

sashawight

M.


36:15.81

Charlotte

Inclusive Leadership inclusive leadership isn't and I had a bit of this with a different leader isn't saying I support you you know whispering I support you you know I've got you anything you need a real inclusive leader is advocating for you.


36:33.15

sashawight

Yeah.


36:34.17

Charlotte

Is speaking up is seeing that the policies and processes don't benefit disabled employees is challenging. The current narrative is attending eogy events to better built there. Um, understanding is challenging. The recruitment process is.


36:43.51

sashawight

Yes, yeah.


36:53.48

Charlotte

You know if you had a flexible working policy through well everyone had to have 1 through covid and it's now being brought back in and that's negatively people are being you know told to come back in three four days a week and that's negatively impacting your disabled employees that they are speaking out and the line leader.


37:07.89

sashawight

Yeah, um.


37:13.26

Charlotte

I Realize this for myself too does have more say than you probably think even if you are not at a very senior level in a business The noise that you can make around it and advocate and the impact that has on employees is massive if they feel.


37:18.94

sashawight

Yeah.


37:26.88

sashawight

Yeah.


37:31.37

Charlotte

Like their leader has got their back and they're not just saying oh I support you you know do what you need to do. They're out there advocating for you. That's massive.


37:38.21

sashawight

Yeah, yeah, definitely I Really like that kind of an inclusive leader is ah is an advocate and is stepping into conversations that are probably challenging but on you know, really trying to support the people in. Teams that are disabled and I think that can be quite confronting as well and I think coming back to what we were talking about in part one with Eex design is kind of.


37:59.14

Charlotte

Yes.


38:10.41

sashawight

Going through that training as you say the comfort having the confidence to talk about this and to ah pursue disability inclusion as a focus in the eex design space same could be said for managers as well, right? and so having that confidence and awareness as well. And so.


38:23.36

Charlotte

Yes.


38:27.96

sashawight

I say this because I'm looking here again referring to the research paper from Hbr about how to make workplaces more inclusive for people with invisible disabilities and a lot of it talks about the role of the manager and it says there's something here that really resonated with me to say this means your knowledge of a disability. And what it looks like or feels like may not correspond to your colleagues experience of the condition. Don't debate them on this point and I think this is quite relevant to managers because I think when people are uncomfortable or they're not particularly knowledgeable in a particular topic.


38:51.78

Charlotte

Yes.


39:03.53

sashawight

We can sometimes overcompensate or um, you know pretend like we know more because that's like a barrier for us. It's a protection and so I think part of that advocacy as managers is also just being comfortable saying I don't know here and this is not my experience and I need you to.


39:09.80

Charlotte

Yes.


39:22.35

sashawight

To tell me what that is so I can advocate for you I'm not going to speak on your behalf incorrectly or make assumptions about what it is like for you to have a ah disability in the workplace does that resonate with you.


39:35.98

Charlotte

Very much so and it's such a if there's 1 um, word that comes to mind when we talk about disability a sort of inclusive leadership. It's it's that humility to accept that. Um, and and often it's worth doing this.


39:47.71

sashawight

Yes.


39:56.19

Charlotte

Work Some people kind of do it. Leaders will just do it in their own time before you start advocating in this space because you can do more harm than good if you assume and you try and take over is this mindset of I don't know nor do I understand everything? um and I am here.


39:56.88

sashawight

Yes. Yes, so.


40:13.27

sashawight

Yes.


40:13.63

Charlotte

Willing to listen willing to accept new ideas and perspectives that that don't align to mine. Um, and I I think you know that's hard because first of all, that's not what we're taught we're taught to be right? or certainly you know a lot of how we we grow up in businesses. We're taught to get it right? so.


40:26.57

sashawight

Yes, yeah.


40:33.39

Charlotte

There's a mindset shift here around being open to getting it wrong and also that's ah, that's bundable space to step into. Um and I'll always say if somebody I So agree with that comment that you've just read out and I think if leaders can get better at this. It opens up so much space.


40:36.47

sashawight

Yeah, um.


40:52.75

Charlotte

For really excellent leadership if you can listen and understand an employee's experience and believe them I think that's it for me is if somebody is telling you especially if you are not from that marginalized identity.


40:58.34

sashawight

Yes, yeah.


41:06.56

sashawight

Yeah, yeah.


41:09.82

Charlotte

Someone is telling you and experience how they experience the world. Don't don't ask that question unless you can go in with a mindset of believing and validating everything you hear even if it doesn't align with how you see the world.


41:21.11

sashawight

Yeah, absolutely I think that's so important and I'm looking down at the notes here as well and I think another thing to call out and is. It says here you can also do your research online to avoid placing the burden of education on your team members these actions show genuine care on your part and will have your team members perform to the best of their abilities. So I think there's that you know as you say listening to experiences and not. Projecting your own thoughts and opinions on someone's experience as you say but also it is about doing some work as a manager and so if you know for example that someone in your team lives with chronic pain. For example, like you is go and do some research and. Don't necessarily bake everything that you know in the online research you've done but at least come to the conversation more informed right? Would you say that that's important like you know would you have welcomed that level of I Guess support and knowledge from your line manager.


42:25.15

Charlotte

Yeah I I would and even if they said I'm not sure if this is going to be to resonate. But I've done some research it it and actually my my my manager the the lady who who I've mentioned had done that.


42:31.25

sashawight

Um, yes.


42:38.96

sashawight

Yeah.


42:41.94

Charlotte

And it really makes a difference because it shows that you care and it shows that you're trying to get it right? and I think looking into it and and building your building your understanding not just of individual disabilities and some of this we've touched on already. But.


42:43.70

sashawight

Yeah, yeah, yeah.


42:59.29

Charlotte

Reflecting on your own biases about disability and trying to understand why you feel a certain way about it and you know some of the coaching that I do is around this. How do you build confidence talking about it. So but when you come to that conversation we can. We can. Ah.


43:08.42

sashawight

Yeah.


43:17.10

sashawight

Yeah, he yeah.


43:17.97

Charlotte

We can sense your fear if you don't feel comfortable talking about it and then that puts the onus on us to make you feel comfortable and so the more that you can turn up to that conversation educating it exactly as you said, um, the better the outcome for everybody in that space. So yeah, hopefully agree with that.


43:29.15

sashawight

Yeah, yeah, awesome. So think we've we've touched on kind of attributes of an inclusive leader. Um and some of the challenges. But maybe I'll just give you. Some space to add anything there. So So what are some of the challenges you see with leaders when it comes to disability inclusion.


43:54.35

Charlotte

So I think that a lot of what we've touched on to summarize it I think the biggest challenges are um, lack of confidence and comfort talking about it lack of taking the time. To learn and invest and overcome bias and to start to see how identity shapes the way that we and others experience the world and and to start to ah Explore. We've not mentioned the word privilege but privilege is that.


44:12.87

sashawight

Yes.


44:26.32

Charlotte

Is important in this space and there is privilege within disability. You know I consider myself to have had a lot of privilege in particular around you know the job that I was in and the support that I got um so I think taking time one of the the biggest challenges taking time.


44:44.63

Charlotte

Be confident in it so that when you are opening a conversation you are creating the safe space and and another challenge that leaders experience this goes back to this always wanting to get it right is when you move from unaware to aware so you might start to understand identity. You might start to understand disability. Being more active where you're stepping off the sidelines you're showing vulnerability. You might be telling your own story. It might not be about disability but to break down barriers and make a safe space for marginalized groups to talk about their experience. You might get things wrong and this can very quickly be where. Somebody then goes oh okay I don't feel comfortable doing this and um resilience plays a key so in that kind of continuum of inclusive leadership from unaware to aware Jennifer Brown talks about this in her book how to be an inclusive leader.


45:23.82

sashawight

Yeah.


45:38.79

Charlotte

Then when the the work the hard work really comes in is in that active advocacy stage where you might be. You might get things wrong and and so we talk about you know resilience and you open yourself up to getting things wrong a lot more when you try to advocate in this space than if you stay quiet stay silent but we we need that and it's.


45:51.97

sashawight

I yeah.


45:58.15

Charlotte

It's that piece around okay accepting what have I learned from this you know apologizing if that's appropriate or just reflecting on. Okay, maybe the language I use wasn't right? Maybe I took up too much space as a non-disabled leader talking about disability and learning from all of that. Um.


46:12.27

sashawight

It is yeah.


46:15.83

Charlotte

And being able to step into an ah ally space that is driving change and continually it's a continuous journey you know, continually um, challenging inequities and exclusion.


46:30.19

sashawight

Yeah.


46:31.34

Charlotte

It's not easy and it takes time So that's one of the main. That's another challenge for leaders. But ah, you know if you surround yourself with the right people and have the right intention. It can be really transformative for you and for your business.


46:39.95

sashawight

And yeah, definitely I Really love what you were saying about like it's a journey.. It's not like you know, being an inclusive leader in this space is like it's it's. Can't be compared to learning to code in a particular language. You know it's not just a skill set that you'll go on one day course and then overnight you're an inclusive leader as you say it's a journey and I think there's a great deal of acceptance maybe isn't the right word. But.


46:55.85

Charlotte

Unit.


47:08.14

sashawight

Confidence That can be derived from knowing as a leader you're on a journey and there are expectations for you to show up and to operate in a way that is um, contributing to progress for disabled employees and you know making a conscious effort to be inclusive. But that it is It is a journey and as you say there will be mistakes along the way and I think when you frame it like that. It's probably an area that leaders will I guess become more excited about and more interested in.. Would you say that that you've seen that you know you you talk about a lot of your work in kind of. Training the learning space for leaders Do when you talk to them and position it as a journey. Do you find them to be more receptive to what you're saying.


47:58.16

Charlotte

Yeah I do and and talking about that. There is no perfect inclusive leader but as well I think is helpful but yes and it it definitely. Ah, the journey bit helps because then I think we start to see as we have to start somewhere.


48:10.40

sashawight

Yes.


48:11.73

Charlotte

And for each individual they will start in a different place but 1 leader it will be speaking to their team to say you know how do we? best work together and how do you like to receive information for somebody else. It might be spending some time reflecting on bias. So yes, it does and none of us. You know we will recruit.


48:17.55

sashawight

Yeah, yeah.


48:29.30

Charlotte

New people. We will all encounter different disabilities over time. So it's about continually approaching leadership with this mindset and someone said this to me before and and I have felt this is once you spot um lack of access and inaccessibility.


48:48.11

sashawight

Yeah.


48:48.83

Charlotte

Disabilities you see it everywhere and genuinely people find this so ah, quite a motivating area. You know this is seen as something that people get that This is about productivity of current employees and and leaders that I've worked with feel genuinely motivated to try and reduce those barriers and to create that inclusive workspace.


48:55.30

sashawight

Um.


48:58.50

sashawight

And.


49:06.10

sashawight

Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely absolutely I I think I agree it it makes me think um and I've spoken about this on the podcast before with Jem Saunders who came on to talk about and inclusion and you know.


49:08.79

Charlotte

Which is great.


49:22.52

sashawight

My brother is disabled and he has a job in a very popular retailer back in the yeah uk and I remember a few years ago he reached out to me knowing I worked in the h r space and said you know I'm having this experience with my manager at the moment where he was going through a performance management. Um. Process kind of like a performance improvement plan where he was being measured in exactly the same way as his peers who were not disabled and and this related to a physical disability. My brother has with his hands and so he was being measured on his packing rate for retailers. So. Picking and packing being able to do it quickly. X number of items in per minute and so it was really really interesting to go through that process and kind of advocate for him and because I think this maybe comes back to your point around equity which is we're not all starting from the same point and sometimes adjustments are required.


49:58.91

Charlotte

Quite yeah.


50:16.91

sashawight

Whether that be to the performance measurement process or how people operate like my brother for example to ensure that he can actively participate and I bring this up as an example because his manager didn't advocate for him His manager saw we have a process this is the process that comes from head office.


50:29.86

Charlotte

Are.


50:34.96

sashawight

And this is the process that I have to enforce and I suppose this kind of kind of brings about the importance of empowering your managers with this ah education and with this I guess sense of responsibility that they are advocates for the people in their teams that are showing up to work every day and experiencing. Life with disability. Um, yeah I think does that example, make sense. Yeah.


50:57.16

Charlotte

Such a good example. Such a good example. It's at such a great example of where an equity lenses need it and so what that manager was doing was I mean they probably weren't even thinking about it intentionally from this perspective but was applying in a qualityity lens which is.


51:03.33

sashawight

Yeah. I.


51:14.61

sashawight

I yeah.


51:17.00

Charlotte

Ah, treat everyone the same which I think we're taught all certainly you know we pick up along the way. But that's that's not right because everyone doesn't have the same need. So absolutely you know I don't know any more than what you've just shared about your your brother. But you know he he would need ah it would be equitable to give him a different um target.


51:21.91

sashawight

Yes.


51:32.69

sashawight

And yeah, exactly Yeah yeah, yeah for sure. But I think you know this was a few years ago and so I'm hoping that the work that people like you were doing in this space to talk about the role of managers and.


51:36.50

Charlotte

And that that would be what equity looks like for him and that's a shame that its manager didn't advocate for him.


51:52.40

sashawight

Their role as advocates for their teams. You know this would solve that problem. You know if that manager felt empowered to speak up for my brother if that had been training he had received. It could have been a very different outcome and experience you know. So I yeah I think it kind of points to the great work. Um, that you're doing in this space as well. So.


51:56.39

Charlotte

Um, yes.


52:06.39

Charlotte

What.


52:12.35

sashawight

Moving on to our last question for part 2 say what advice would you give to Eex leaders listening to this so given everything we've said about the role of leaders in disability inclusion where should eex leaders start if they're not already considering what we've discussed today.


52:29.80

Charlotte

You know it's funny. The more I have these conversations and even as we're talking now because I spoke a bit before about you know, starting with the the data and even example, you've just given I I Really think starting with. Education and awareness probably is the place that everybody should be starting and whether that's this is the kind of work that we do So We do it either through coaching we do workshops we do training whether it's a bit like what you were saying your own um your own research. You know there's loads of brilliant books. Which I can recommend on disability but really just bring it to life and help help people understand it if you can build your awareness and understanding and confidence and have that training to then be able to start the conversations to then be able to start to identify the barriers. For me I think that really is the the place to start once you have that framework in your mind and and that comfort with humility comfort hopefully with a bit of Vulnerability. You've maybe thought about how you're going to tell your story. Creates say spatial story might be completely different but showing you know people want to connect on a human level I think you've spoken a lot about this in in the future of leadership the more you can get yourself to a place as a leader that you're starting to have the conversations.


54:00.62

Charlotte

The more it will open the opportunity for people to share with you What they need um and that has a ripple effect throughout your team and throughout your business. But I think starting with that awareness and education is is really kind of disability inclusion one-on-one.


54:15.12

sashawight

And yeah, definitely and I guess that also brings us back to the design point right? as well is being comfortable having these conversations as eex design thinkers And. Kind of embracing the enablement that you talk about as well. So You know we're talking a lot about empowering managers with knowledge but also internal design teams even customer facing design teams as well. I think it's not just about leader leader capability or leaders being comfortable with this.. It's.


54:42.56

Charlotte

What.


54:49.20

sashawight

It's also about how do we practically embed some of this thinking some of this knowledge and awareness and compassion in design practices in the way that we work and the way that we operate in our marketing in our product design. You know all of those things as well I think um, it's a huge opportunity. Um, absolutely huge.


55:08.83

sashawight

Yeah, so.


55:08.84

Charlotte

Absolutely absolutely and it extends beyond you know it just that it you know it is a marketeer thinking about the agency you you you're working with thinking about the people you're representing in your media and your comms etc. It's um, yes. But you open Handdora's box on it it it never owns but absolutely those things that you just mentioned you're a really good place to start as well for ex.


55:23.65

sashawight

Yes, yeah. It amazing. Well Charlotte thank you so much I really appreciate you coming on the podcast and yeah, it's super exciting. We got so much content I'm glad we could spread this sober 2 parts as well. I think this is fantastic for our listeners and you know hats off to you for the work that you're doing if you. Um, I'm not connected with Charlotte yet I will leave her Linkedin profile in the show notes you can go over and see the amazing work that she's doing on Linkedin. Um, charlot I think you have a fantastic way of breaking down some very. Complex and often for some people intimidating topics in a way that is very practical and business focused and I think that's why I love following you on Linkedin and seeing what you're doing um because it's you know it's just really insightful and practical and so from an e x design lens. The work that you do around measurements. Um, and what you share around measurement as well is just really important when we're talking about how we measure and improve experiences. So a huge thank you to you for the work that you're doing in this space and for coming on the podcast. Really really happy that you could join us.


56:33.93

Charlotte

Thank you, Thank you for having me I appreciate it. Alrighty Thank you bye.


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