The world today is designed in a way that prevents everyone being able to have access. A recent example being the Israeli minster who could not attend the early COP26 talks due to access issues for her wheelchair. Scope, the disability charity, reports that there are over 14 million people in the UK with a disability. That’s around 20 per cent of the population, add to that their family and friends, then those affected by lack of accessibility in infrastructure, technology and process is much greater. It’s not all about wheelchairs too, 80 per cent of disabilities are hidden and you may not know that the person sitting next to you or looking back from an MS Teams call struggles with an aspect of their daily life.
It is a lesser-known fact that most individuals covered by the UK Equality Act, don’t identify as disabled. Whether they identify or not, they will still be impacted by barriers created by the infrastructure, technology or process that didn’t consider their requirements when created. Disability groups are moving away from the medical model of disability to the social model. This defines disability as a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which they live. The problem here becomes the barriers, policies and procedures in society, rather than the individual needing to be ‘fixed’ or ending up excluded. The solution is to change the way we create the world around us to allow everyone to participate and be included.
Further evidence of the requirement to think differently about creating a more systematic, inclusive (designed for all) world, is the research by Purple that shows businesses lose approximately £2bn a month by ignoring the needs of their disabled customers. And that 75 per cent of disabled customers and their families walked or clicked away from a business that was not accessible.
When we think of this is the context of project management, we see how critical the role of a project professional becomes to ensuring that when we consider design through the life cycle of a project, at all stages accessibility must be reviewed. In this way project professionals have the ability to create an outcome that invites or excludes. When we stop being curious and create the same template again and again, we ingrain that exclusion as a fact rather than a choice. Best practice is to ensure the users are incorporated into the process, and if the team itself is diverse even better.
So what can we do? As project professionals we must remain curious to identify the current barriers and seek to understand how we can remove them. Taking part in this questionnaire will enable APM, to improve the diversity of thought and create the right inclusive environment for project managers to thrive. This leads to improvements in safety, quality, performance and mental health and wellbeing; it is more than the right thing to do. APM is committed to encouraging inclusive organisations; supporting those from all background and abilities who are project managers, or want to become project management professionals.
By understanding more about those currently within and those who would like to be within the project profession, together we can create the most diverse project managers who can truly be the change they want to see.