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Civil Service

Civil Service Live – disability insights and activities

I thought it would be helpful to provide an update on the disability agenda which featured strongly at this year’s Civil Service Live events. At most venues we had two exhibition stands showcasing the work of the Central Workplace Adjustment Service and the Civil Service Disability Inclusion Team.

Promoting disability confidence at Civil Service Live 2017

Many disabled colleagues and line managers grasped the opportunity to visit the stands to raise queries and share insights. Common themes which emerged were:

  • There is greater awareness of disability inclusion across the Civil Service. It was great to hear about role models such as Jonathan Cocks in DWP Morecambe Jobcentre, who has created a disability notice board to update colleagues on disability initiatives, such as promoting the new learning offer.
  • Some disabled colleagues continue to report barriers, such as their line manager refusing to complete a Workplace Adjustment Passport. We need to address this and I would encourage anyone experiencing difficulties to speak to your Departmental Disability Champion, or to raise this with your Departments Workplace Adjustment Team. If this does not resolve the concern you should use the Central Workplace Adjustment Team Review Route.
  • The vast majority of line managers are keen to build their disability confident knowledge and are seeking the tools and support to do so. Many openly revealed that they wish to help but are scared of saying the wrong thing.

On this latter point, we ran a Disability Confident workshop at Civil Service Live in Manchester aimed at line managers. Attendees were presented with two line manager disability confident models; the 3Cs model which I shared in a previous blog and the following alternative ENABLER model.

A disability confident line manager who applies the ENABLER model will:

Exhibit inclusive leadership behaviours  They will adopt inclusive leadership and working practices, such as ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to contribute when chairing team meetings. It could also involve considering the impact of proposed organisational changes, such as the introduction of new IT/working practices etc. on disabled colleagues or simply requesting regular 360 feedback to obtain insight on their leadership behaviours.

Nurture untapped talent They will ensure that disabled employees are treated fairly and have the same opportunities as non-disabled colleagues. Disability Confident line managers will have no preconceptions on the abilities of disabled staff, offering them stretching work, career development moves, and putting them forward for promotion and talent programmes in the same way as their peers.

Apply Attendance Management policies correctly They will be knowledgeable and skilled in attendance management and in supporting staff to return to work. They will Identify and act on signs or triggers that may prevent extended sick leave and know how to distinguish between disability related absence and sickness absence.

Break down barriers by implementing adjustments They will know where to access advice about identifying, implementing and reviewing workplace adjustments to enable disabled employees to work effectively and realise their full potential. They will offer to document approved adjustments on a workplace adjustment passport, to enable seamless retention on a change of line manager/job role or move between departments, agencies and external organisations.

Lead the way, acting as a disability role model They will challenge and tackle inappropriate behaviour towards disabled employees that constitutes bullying, harassment and/or discrimination. They are widely recognised as a disability role model and champion of disability inclusion.

Establish positive relationships to build engagement They are skilled in building positive relationships to ensure that disabled colleagues have a motivating and inclusive experience at work. They understand that this can have a significant impact on their engagement, reducing work-related stress and improving organisational commitment.

Respect confidentiality They will respect that information on an employee’s disability is confidential, unless the employee has made it clear that they are content for the information to be shared or disclosure is necessary to safeguard the individual or others.

Having presented both models we then used the tried and tested method used by the TV programme Ready Steady Cook of asking workshop attendees to hold up a red or green card to show which model they preferred. Attendees voted the ENABLER model a clear winner and suggested amending this to ENABLERS in order to capture an additional key characteristic, “seeks help and advice”.  

If you have any thoughts on which model you prefer, please post your comments below or contact me at

ENEI Awards

Civil Service Workplace Adjustment Team ENEI Disability Confident Award Winners
Civil Service Workplace Adjustment Team ENEI Disability Confident Award Winners

Finally, congratulations to the Civil Service Workplace Adjustment Service for winning the 2017 Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion [enei] Disability Confident Award. Also to DWP and Civil Service Human Resources, who were highly commended in their award category and to other Civil Service departments, teams and individuals shortlisted. ENEI Awards are a useful indicator of progress as they recognise the commitment of organisations in achieving diverse and inclusive workplaces and celebrates the teams and individuals who are really making a difference.

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  1. Comment by William Streek posted on

    Here in Croydon it is not a great place to work. As for championing disability I would suggest that all of these blogs are just lip service and the corporate machine is still set on crushing those with disabilities. I will not bore you with the full story just to say I have a desk that was recommended for me 12 years ago by Access to Work but as of Monday morning it is likely to be on a skip because I cannot have it on a smarter working floor. I spoke to Access to Work who said it has to be moved if not it will be a health and safety problem but the smarter working people will still not listen. The stress this has caused me over the past few weeks has been great. If you have a disability then trying to be a productive member of staff for this organisation is always a fight!

    • Replies to William Streek>

      Comment by Philip Rutnam posted on


      I am sorry to hear about the stress that you have experienced in having your request declined to take your 12-year-old desk provided by Access to Work with you to a smarter working floor. It would be helpful to know the full circumstances, such as whether you have been offered a new desk that is a suitable alternative. Please email me at and/or Mark Thomson, who is the Home Office Disability Champion, at, with your contact details and further information and I will arrange to look into this.

  2. Comment by Rob P posted on

    I'd offer that both models that went through "Ready Steady Choose" are what the HO should have been doing for 22 years since the law changed.

    Until there are sanctions for failing to "Ready Steady Implement", I don't foresee change. The wagons will continue to close around the ranks and the disabled workers will be left outside to freeze.

    I'll come back in a year if I'm still here and review.

    • Replies to Rob P>

      Comment by Philip Rutnam posted on


      Thanks for your comment. I am sorry to hear that you feel that our department, the Home Office, has not been applying either of the inclusive leadership models. Rather than wait a year, if you have specific examples of non-inclusive behaviour or closing ranks, please feel free to contact me on or Mark Thomson, the Home Office Disability Champion, at to raise these directly.

  3. Comment by janet Seale posted on

    I have severe dyslexia and associated conditoners (no spell checker here) and have been treated very badly by the Home Office and am not convinced by any of this disability championing.

    • Replies to janet Seale>

      Comment by Philip Rutnam posted on


      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I am sorry to hear that, as someone with severe dyslexia and associated conditions, you feel that you have been treated unfairly by our department the Home Office. Please contact me by emailing or Mark Thomson, who is the Home Office Disability Champion, at, with additional information on your experience and I will look into this.

  4. Comment by Mr Dicketts posted on

    The last two disability-related blogs in the Leadership Blog section of Horizon, which now boasts a rather misleading link to this one, attracted 126 and 148 comments respectively. This one has been up for 13 days and has thus far received 4, or 5, if this gets past moderation.

    Strange, don't you think? And such a shame, because disability related issues certainly seem to resonate with colleagues. Will you be replying to the gentleman who raised the frankly astonishing matter of no disabled parking in a new building?

    Could the apparent lack of interest, I wonder, have anything to do with the fact that posts here are moderated BEFORE they are aired, rather than after people have at least had a chance to read them. Hopefully you'll feel able to post to Home Office colleagues on Horizon before too long.

    • Replies to Mr Dicketts>

      Comment by The Blog Team posted on

      Mr Dicketts,

      Thanks for your comments. Regret we are not familiar with the Leadership Blog you mention, so we cannot readily account for the apparent disparity in the number of comments the two blog platforms attract. However, blogs from leaders and others on the subject of disability and other diversity and inclusion related matters are among the most commonly posted on the Civil Service blog. They elicit a lively response and, as a quick scan of the posts from Jonathan Jones and Philip Rutnam, for example, will show, comments both positive and negative appear. Regardless of whether the comments are supportive or critical, the authors invariably respond. Also, by definition, unless we misunderstand you, comments can only be moderated before publication.

      The matter of disabled parking provision, to which you allude, is a serious one. Please see the response above to Paul Quinn, who also raised it, and our direction to a response to a similar enquiry on another recent blog.

      • Replies to The Blog Team>

        Comment by Mr Dicketts posted on

        At the risk of being accused of over-simplifying the issue, it's actually very simple, at least to me; there are, so I am given to understand, both allocated disabled parking places, and spare disabled parking places, which can be booked, at 2MS.

        If it can be provided in the heart of central London, why could it not have been provided in a new building in Belfast? How disappointing it must be for colleagues in the regions not to be treated equally.

  5. Comment by Indra Prasad Upadhayay posted on

    Dear Sir/Madam
    We are very much excited by reading this Disability insights and activities. I am from Nepal. I am a physical Disabled Person, working in civil service of Nepal. We have just established a organization related to civil service employees' with Disability. We want close collaboration with UK based CSDN.
    Best regards
    Indra Prasad Upadhayay
    chair Person

    • Replies to Indra Prasad Upadhayay>

      Comment by Philip Rutnam posted on


      Thanks for taking the time to post a comment. I have sent your details to Alex Freegard, chair of CSDN.

  6. Comment by Mikey posted on

    I've been in the HO for 14 years and was finally and formally diagnosed as Dyspraxic with mild Dyslexia, having been previously reliant on the grace of managers been supportive I can now ask for what I need. Overall the resposne has been good though manager at times need teaching what a reasonable adjustment is i.e. specific to an individual and to graps some of the emtional and esteem issues that can come with living with these conditions.

    It is good to see the Service finally trying to get to grips with Specific Leaning Difficulties though there is a long way to go to get the needed collective awareness.

    All progress start with a step and that has been taken.

    • Replies to Mikey>

      Comment by Philip Rutnam posted on


      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. It is good to hear that, since being diagnosed with dyspraxia and mild dyslexia, your managers have been supportive. Your point that managers should receive training on reasonable adjustments resonates with Sharon’s previous comments that we need to do more to upskill line managers to be disability confident.

  7. Comment by Sharon Rigby posted on

    I am so glad that there is to be more promotion of disability awareness and its importance, as unfortunately in my experience it has fallen far too short in mindfulness. As a disabled member of staff, I have had many struggles trying to get reasonable adjustments implemented and in some cases, they were taken away, even though they knew I really needed them so as not to place me in detriment. I am disappointed that a workplace which promotes diversity and inclusion, could be so unaware of reality for people like me. I have suffered exponentially, as I perceive that managers do not currently have the expertise to implement this ‘inclusive environment’. In fact, I have never felt more isolated or excluded in my life. Based on what has happened to me, managers appear ill-equipped to recognise the need for RA’s and how to implement them. When dealing with managers in my workplace, they appear to be distrustful of advice and guidance from medical professionals and from this, I have no confidence whatsoever in their abilities to manage people with a disability. Going forward, I would like to see a greater understanding of what is meant by wellbeing, inclusion, diversity and equality, as this would then be a great place to work.

    • Replies to Sharon Rigby>

      Comment by Philip Rutnam posted on


      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I am sorry to hear that you have encountered difficulties in regard to both adjustments implemented and taken away. If you still do not have all of your required adjustments in place, please raise this via the Central Workplace Adjustment Service Review Route. You are correct in highlighting that, to make the Civil Service a great place to work, we need to equip line managers to be disability confident. I would therefore encourage all line managers to complete the new Becoming Disability Confident learning product.

  8. Comment by Owen Morris posted on

    It sounds very positive, and I have had many managers who have been good at these sort of behaviours even before my ASD was diagnosed. They have helped me to remain useful and productive when many struggle, although it hasn't always been easy going.

    It is important that inclusive doesn't include accidentally pushing people with a social anxiety into a situation that the manager thinks is inclusive but actually causes or exacerbates an issue for a member of staff.

    • Replies to Owen Morris>

      Comment by Philip Rutnam posted on


      It is good to hear that you have been fortunate to have had line managers who have demonstrated inclusive behaviours before and after your ASD was diagnosed. You make a good point that being an inclusive manager means speaking to the individual before implementing adjustments, as an adjustment that worked for one individual with a specific disability may not work for another. It is about seeking the views of the individual concerned, rather than taking actions without consultation (no matter how well intended) that could make the situation worse.

  9. Comment by Paul Quinn posted on

    Breaking down barriers - don't see much of that when the HMRC Belfast Regional Centre - a new build - doesn't have any disabled car parking.

  10. Comment by Dave Havery posted on

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity in previous blogs to share my story, it really helped. I attended CSL at the Sage Gateshead and having gone through what I had around disability, bullying & mental health issues, I was extremely pleased that a lot of those workshops on the day were based around or on those specific topics, it would appear the powers that be are at last listening. It was also very pleasing to see those workshops very well attended and people were not afraid to share their own stories as did, I and how the feedback received was very supportive.
    I have again recently shared my story in Civil Service Learning workshops on Resilience and Wellbeing, Building Trusting Relationships & Engaging Through Story Telling, I would personally recommend these to any colleague, I also shared my story with my HMRC colleagues via the news pages on the intranet, the feedback I received from attending the workshops and from sharing my story personally and online makes me proud that my story may in some way help my colleagues not just here in HMRC but also across the Civil Service. Keep up the good work.

    • Replies to Dave Havery>

      Comment by Philip Rutnam posted on


      It is fantastic to hear that you are taking the time to share your personal experience on disability and mental health issues, which hopefully will inspire and encourage others to share their own stories. It is only by creating a supportive and open culture in which people feel able to bring their full selves to work that we will be able to break the stigma around mental health. Great to hear also that the workshops on Health & Well-Being at Civil Service Live, Gateshead, were well attended.

  11. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Thank you Philip for the update. Having been with the Organisation over 26 years, I am encouraged that we have far more inclusive working environment and that it has been proven that with the proper reasonable adjustments in place and Disability Smart Leadership, colleagues with a disability are still able contribute.

    Certainly within the FCO, Daniel Pruce the SMS Sponsor of ENABLE and Alex Freegard the Chair of ENABLE have made it a great place to work.

    I am also pleased to see that more focus is being placed on Mental Health and Wellbeing and in particular the importance of inclusive Leadership in helping colleagues to get back on track.

    • Replies to Gavin Thomas>

      Comment by Philip Rutnam posted on

      Gavin, thanks for acknowledging the excellent work undertaken in the FCO by Daniel Pruce, the SMS Sponsor, and Alex Freegard, chair of ENABLE; also the increased focus on mental health and the importance of leadership in helping colleagues to get back on track. It is heartening to hear that you feel that some progress is being made in building a more inclusive working environment.