Disabled Staff Role Models


Manchester Metropolitan University is committed to ensuring that all its staff and students are able to work in an inclusive environment, regardless of their age, disability, gender, marital status, race, religious belief (or no belief), sexual orientation or transgender status.

Disabled staff are more motivated, efficient and confident in the workplace when they are able to feel supported with their disability. However, disclosure can lead to a feeling of vulnerability so it is not something that is easy for everyone.

The Equality & Diversity Role Models series profiling disabled staff members on ManMetLife was introduced to mark the International Day of Disabled People (3rd Dec) and to highlight the fact that having a disability need not be a barrier to thrive at Manchester Met. We encourage other disabled staff to inform their line manager so that they feel supported and their talents will not go to waste.

The series demonstrates that diversity – and being our authentic selves – is something to be celebrated. No matter what your job role within Manchester Met, if you are disabled and would like to feature as a role model and/or need any advice, please contact equalities@mmu.ac.uk or call us on 0161 247 6494.

Further Guidance for disabled staff or their line managers is available from http://www.mmu.ac.uk/equality-and-diversity/disability/

Stuart McKenna is the Equality & Diversity Manager in the Talent, Engagement & Development team.


Why do you think it’s important to have disabled staff role models?
Role models provide a huge amount of positive visibility for disabled people. It’s a useful way of demonstrating that disabled people work across all areas of the University, in a variety of roles. Having role models allows the institution to have a serious conversation about disability, the contribution made by disabled people where appropriate how disabled people can be encouraged into and retained within the workforce.

Does being disabled influence your working life? If so, how?
I think being a disabled person makes me more sensitive to the needs of others, and that, one size does not fit all. There are often a variety of ways in which tasks can be completed, and for some disabled people, it may just mean a different path to the same goal. Of course, working in Equality & Diversity, the understanding of disability influences my working life, and I believe that having a lived experience, particularly of an unseen condition, can add a level of authenticity to the work that we carry out.

How easy is it to talk to your manager/s about your disability?
I am very fortunate, particularly given the role that I carry out in the University that talking to my manager about my disability is not a problem. This hasn’t always been the case though. In previous roles outside the University it would have been much more difficult, or even impossible. I think we need to acknowledge, as a University, that this is an area we do well at.

How easy is it to talk to your colleagues about your disability?
As my condition is unseen, this is a conversation that perhaps doesn’t come up as often as it would with colleagues with a physical impairment. I am happy to chat openly about my experiences of having a mental health condition, as it is a way of breaking down barriers and addressing some of the social anxieties that many people have around this subject.

What kind of reasonable adjustments has the University put in place to support you in your work?
I am fortunate that, for most of the time, I am able to manage in the workplace, without the need for ongoing adjustments. I know that if I had a particular issue, I would be able to talk openly and honestly with my manager.

What advice would you give to other disabled staff or students who may be facing difficulties because of their disability?
For staff, the Equality and Diversity team can provide a range of resources for staff who may be experiencing difficulties. We are particularly well equipped to support managers who may be asked to provide a member of staff with reasonable adjustments. For individual staff we can provide advice and support, as well as signposting to useful resources that are available. I would also encourage any disabled member of staff to join the Disabled Staff Forum. This peer environment is a useful forum to exchange views, offer and receive support, and to be able to influence University policy in relation to disabled people.

For students who may be experiencing difficulties, the University Disability Service is an excellent resource, which all disabled students can access. In addition, the Counselling and Wellbeing Service is available for students who may be experiencing mental health problems or are simply looking for additional information.

What can we all do to make Manchester Met a better place for disabled staff and/or students?
Everyone can have a role to play in making the University a better place for Disabled people. We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves, and to raise awareness of the valuable contribution that our disabled staff and students make. The University subscribes to the Social Model of disability that recognises that it is not an individual’s impairment that is disabled, but that society disables people. By putting those principles into place, we can all contribute to making the University a better place for disabled and non-disabled people alike.