Seize the opportunities of the disabled ‘purple pound’, urges business leader

Businessman Mike Adams, ceo of Purple

Businessman Mike Adams, ceo of Purple - Credit: IoD Director magazine

A prominent business leader and disability advocate is encouraging people to realise the value of “the purple pound” ahead of a major diversity debate in the region.

Mike Adams became an OBE in 2012 for services to disabled people and was listed in Disability News Service’s list of the UK’s top 100 most influential disabled people.

As chief executive of Chelmsford-based disability consultancy Purple, he will speaking at the Institute of Directors’ regional conference on September 25, which is focusing on inclusivity and diversity in the workforce.

Mr Adams said: “Employers tell me productivity and the wellbeing of staff is a huge issue for businesses. And disabled people are a real opportunity as consumers for businesses and as potential employees.

“What we are trying to do is mainstream disability as a business issue.

“I am obviously disabled but four out of five disabled people have hidden issues, particularly mental health.

“If they have employer support they can really play a part as productive employees.”

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Mr Adams, who won the IoD’s first disability employment director of the year award last year, said employers should look for the advantages of a government campaign to get one million disabled people into work.

“There is a lot of talent out there,” he said. “You have heard of the grey pound: well, the purple pound is worth £249bn a year to the UK economy, so spending by disabled people and their families should be a target for businesses.

“It is our aim to promote disability and as an opportunity, and something to value, rather than a problem.”

The IoD conference will include speakers Other speakers at the IoD conference include Essex policeman Sergeant Jamie Mills, Matt Scarff, director of ITV Creative and ITV Experiences, who is also chairman of ITV Pride and Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, of gender balance consultancy 20-first.

Seamus Nevin, the IoD’s head of policy research, said: “The UK has one of the most diverse populations in the world. Diversity is our strength but often we don’t capitalise on that strength in the workplace.

“McKinsey research shows that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, so the incentives are clear.”

The conference takes places on Tuesday September 25 at Duxford International War Museum and is open to IoD members and non-members.