I was thrilled to be asked by Sarah to be a contributor to this “challenging stereotypes” blog. I have worked in the field of challenging stereotypes since 1990, following a somewhat varied (some might say random) career including civil engineering and social work. Initially a freelance trainer, I formed Public Sector Providers in 2004 and The Diversity People in 2009. The businesses promote diversity both externally (providing diversity training and consultancy) and internally (practising what we preach).
I suspect I’m the ‘token cripple’ (or, more politically correctly, ‘disabled businesswoman’). Ironically, after many years of promoting diversity in the workplace, including challenging negative perceptions around disability, I had to put my money where my mouth was when I became disabled myself in 2004.
I was a finalist in the Stelios Disabled Entrepreneurs Award in 2008. Four days later I undertook radical spinal surgery which not only cost me £40,000 (the NHS wouldn’t fund it as it was experimental) it also failed, rendering me far more severely disabled. Not one of my better decisions!
My business interests are around helping all kinds of organisations gain the benefits of diversity (not just disability, but “difference” in a wider context – age, race, sexual orientation, religion, culture, gender and all the rest of it), and my blogs will reflect various aspects of this.
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