During my time at O2, I discovered that there was a gap in the culture of the company and desperately wanted to close the gap, engaging with a topic which has been rising through current culture – Diversity and Inclusion.
I’m not saying that O2 didn’t have their processes in place for being diverse and inclusive, I’m saying that there needed to be more exposure of these processes and discussion of the topics. There had previously, in our society, been a stigma against disability, cultural differences and generally difference to the norm. This was something that played on my mind as someone who suffered from a disability that makes me different to others.
I initially heard of this campaign when I was in the city, large firms are addressing the issues of the lack of understanding and exposure to these topics. I learned a lot about what other companies had done to improve this area of their business, to be more ethical, to create a more inclusive culture and I desperately wanted to play my part in this change!
This blog will give you an overview of the ‘This is Me’ campaign that I ran within my region in O2. You’re probably asking why the campaign was called ‘This is Me’? Well, my reason for it, which I’m sure is the same for the inner-city companies running their versions of the campaign is this: the campaign is looking to highlight individuality, uniqueness, and difference. The people providing their stories for the campaign are saying ‘This is who I am, this is me’. One important part of life is that you are your own person, and you are extremely unique. No-one can take that away from you, and nor should they try to!
This blog will give you a condensed overview of my reasons for the campaign, which I put forward to other regions in a special pack to engage with the wider O2 culture to attempt to bring more exposure to the campaign. My hope is that in the coming months, the campaign will run nationwide, with me at the forefront of it. So far the posts that were shared during my regional campaign received fantastic applause and feedback! People were willing to share their story, and others were willing to engage with the topic positively, with an open mind. In fact, I didn’t realise how popular the topic was going to be within the region, it shows a significant change in general society’s views in regards to thoughts on disabilities in the workplace and I guess, a general acceptance of mental illness.
These are the questions I answered in the specialist pack I produced for the pursuit of engaging with the wider O2 regional audience:
Why did I start the campaign?
Initially, the campaign idea arose from engaging in current headlines about the changing perception of people with disabilities in the workplace. I was inspired by the stories I had read about people, like me, who wanted to make a difference for their place of work. I knew O2’s approach to Diversity and Inclusion was great, but we at O2 love to push for amazing. I felt that if we were able to increase the exposure to the talent pool out there, of people who have disabilities, then we could open up the doors to many fantastic people who may not otherwise look to apply.
In a way it is my attempt to make a change, and I wanted to drive that change through inspiration, changing perceptions, and creating a wider knowledge of topics that many of us don’t speak about that often.
What was your perceived outcome?
I believe that if a company has a more ethical, diverse and inclusive culture – people are more likely to want to work there and what’s more, it may actually help retain current staff. Firstly, if a company emphasises, with clear examples (like the blogs), that they take a really encouraging and knowledgeable approach to D&I, people are more likely to apply, from those talent pools.
Secondly, if our current staff see the work we do with disabilities, it may help with retention – as they may share their difficulties with their own management team. This, in turn, will help management to understand the needs of their staff, and understand that we are human, whether disabled or not and we can struggle at certain stages in our life.
This is what I hope to achieve from the campaign, and this is going to take a lot more work than merely what has been done within my own region.
How successful was the campaign?
Regionally specific (of course!), the campaign was very successful. I didn’t think for a second that I would have more than myself putting forward a blog. The team jumped on board. The videos I sent for Mike to distribute gained massively positive support. When the first vlog came through – I was over the moon. I love learning about new things and I really love to hear about people’s stories.
The success started initially with the material that I had gathered from everyone, but, however; after seeing the analytics, I knew I had made the right choice to start this campaign. There is certainly a changing, more open perception towards diversity and this was the forefront of it for our company. The success doesn’t stop here though, the campaign wasn’t for O2 Region…, it was for O2.
“The goal is simple: To inspire, to educate and to share”.
My own post that I provided for the campaign is below:
The campaign will continue to develop as I work closely with the team at head office, and I’m hoping that mid-2018 the ‘This is Me’ campaign will be available nationally for the company.
I’m excited to see what comes of it!
Thanks again for reading.