Nicola Westwood explains how Capgemini UK's campaign 'Now You See Me' raises awareness of invisible disabilities


Capgemini UK campaign shines spotlight on invisible disabilities

 March 03, 2020

Capgemini UK is shining a spotlight on invisible disabilities via a new campaign: ‘Now You See Me’, and is also adopting the nationwide ‘Sunflower Scheme’ while looking at best industry practices to see where it can improve.

The campaign is led by Nicola Westwood, part of Capgemini's Active Inclusion Team, who wants to share her passion for this important topic.

Learning about invisible disabilities

Nicola describes herself as a healthy, middle aged women whose only disability is the need to wear contact lenses. For her, the concept of invisible disability was something she wasn’t aware of, and certainly had no experience of, before her son was diagnosed with Autism as a toddler.

"Patrick is now almost 22. He’s a strapping, handsome young man and physically extremely able. If he was sat quietly in a café with me, you’d assume there was nothing wrong with him, but he is disabled," she explains.

"His lack of speech, his quirky behaviour, are both signs that he’s not quite ‘right’. I can say this, because I’m his mum, but I have spent years defending him, trying to educate people (no, he’s not naughty and no, a smack won’t help) but sadly, there is still a lot of ignorance about not just autism, but all invisible disabilities – and there are many."

Raising awareness at Capgemini

When Nicola joined Campgemini UK's Active Inclusion Team she was thrilled to be asked to scope out a campaign on Invisible Disability – by lucky coincidence she was going to be able to use her experience and growing knowledge to raise awareness and educate other Capgemini employees.

Nicola explains that researching the topic yielded some staggering numbers.

"The one that sticks in my mind was seeing that only 4 per cent of disabled people are wheelchair users – the symbol that we instantly associated with disability. 80 per cent of those who are classed as disabled have an invisible or hidden disability," she says.

"Further research into the types of disability was a real education, too. Granted there were things I’d never heard of but also things that I had never even thought of as being a disability, were. My dad had slipped a disc at 19 that made him suffer chronic back ache for the rest of his life. He had been living with a disability."

Adopting the Sunflower Scheme

The more research Nicola did, the more excited and motivated she became. Another lucky coincidence occurred when she spotted on Twitter that Tesco had started to make Sunflower lanyards available throughout their stores. She'd heard of them as they'd been recommended as something she could maybe get for Patrick to highlight he was disabled.

"I picked up the phone and spoke to one of the team at Hidden Disabilities, and yes, we could adopt the scheme. Laura, the comms guru who works closely with the AI Team came up with the brilliant slogan to support the campaign ‘Now You See Me’," Nicola comments.

"Evocative and thought provoking, and we designed a logo that incorporated the strapline and the symbol. More conversations followed with the Business Disability Forum, and my HR colleagues, on what we should and could cover as part of ‘Now You See Me’ – and then, with the full support of the UK AI Steering Board we launched our campaign in January."

Launching 'Inclusion Live'

Nicola describes the response to the launch as "fantastic". 

"People sharing details with me of their own experiences of living with an invisible disability, requests for badges – it was phenomenal!" she adds.

"As a team keen to explore other ways of sharing what we are working on in terms of Active Inclusion, we came up with the concept of ‘Inclusion Live’, panel discussions that people could attend virtually. The first one themed around Invisible Disability took place in February, hosted (nervously!) by me, with a trio of fantastic guests – our campaign sponsor, Capgemini VP Rory Burghes, and guests from the British Disability Forum and Hidden Disabilities," she continues

"It was a good session, well received and feedback was great….but one thing became apparent on the call which was a big lesson learned – in setting up the session we’d actually not considered the needs of our audience, some of whom may have needed the adjustments we were talking about in the session. A horrible irony, and lesson learned, but it inspired me to reach out to my colleagues in the know and explore the accessibility features that Office 365 has and share these more widely (as well as utilising them!)."

The importance of conversation

Nicola admits she's never been a fan of the phrase ‘it’s a journey’ - it normally elicits an eye-roll from her, but what she is doing, with the support of the contacts she has in respect of ‘Now You See Me’ really has been a journey for her, and will continue to be.

"We’ve made a great start, and will make continued progress, in ensuring we are all more aware on the topic – both as peers, colleagues, and managers," she says.

"The overriding thing I’ve learned on this journey so far is that conversations are key – so don’t be nervous about having them in respect of either your own or someone else’s Invisible Disability – it will make a huge positive difference."

Work for a company committed to inclusion

At Capgemini UK, all employees are encouraged to work towards active inclusion both at work and in their daily lives.

If you want to work for a progressive prime employer, search and apply for a job with Capgemeni UK.

 

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