Championing Ability – National Inclusion Week

24th September 2019

Physical and hidden disabilities will not preclude you from opportunities at Wilson James.

The first strand of the Wilson James EDI approach is focused on building career and development opportunities for individuals with hidden and physical disabilities.

Beginning the work

While this work is still in its early days, we have piloted a programme with a client partner to provide work experience and career opportunities in the security industry to individuals with physical and hidden disabilities. Working in partnership with a supporting charity, we are striving to change the face of the security industry by challenging preconceived notions of what a security professional’s career path looks like.

Changing the face of the industry

Late in 2018, Wilson James had the opportunity to partner with one of our clients in an exciting pilot programme designed to challenge preconceived notions of what a security career looks like.

A huge issue recognised by both companies is the lack of diversity in the security industry. According to a study in 2018, the security management sector is underrepresented in all areas, except by straight white men. In that same year, our client–a giant in the tech and media space–set out a vision to improve diversity and inclusion in the security division and ensure that its workforce better reflects the people that use their products. In other words, they felt that their workforce should better resemble their customers.

The decision was to initially focus on visible and hidden disability and make a positive social impact through changing the face of security. By offering work placement opportunities to people with a disability, the goal was to help build positive role models and a positive narrative in the disabled community and beyond.

Our client and Wilson James started the journey with a common aim: “Let’s not focus on what the individual cannot do, let’s try to find out what the individual can do.” To that end we partnered with the Shaw Trust, a leading charity focused on helping individuals with disabilities gain valuable work experience and opportunities. Thus far we have worked with colleagues whose disability experiences have ranged from wheelchair use and deafness to PTSD and autism.

To say that this programme has been a success would be an understatement. Not only have several individuals had opportunities to gain work experience at a prestigious brand which will open future doors, we at Wilson James have benefited by several of these individuals joining us a full-time employees.

Every single person has said that the programme has boosted their self esteem and confidence; we have literally changed people’s lives. By working together and sharing their experiences of disability, all candidates have enriched and rewarded the existing team. One Wilson James employee said when asked about the experience: “I went home last night and really felt like I’d made a difference.”

We have had nothing but positive feedback from staff, other clients and from the Shaw Trust about what has been achieved so far. The security industry has a lot of work to do but to be leading the way together is hugely rewarding. A programme such as ours is principally about doing the right thing and helping to make a lasting difference in people’s lives. It also enables us to recruit and retain talented staff, develop team skills, add value to the client relationship and to differentiate our brands.

What’s next

Our attention to this issue has understandably grown as we have assumed contracts for Passengers with Restricted Mobility (PRM) contracts in the aviation industry, bringing us into contact with subject matter experts and advocates for individuals with hidden and physical disabilities. We will be actively seeking opportunities to engage with these communities as a service provider and not just an employer.

However, our commitment to career opportunities and development will not stop. Moving forward, our ambitions for this stream of work will include expanding our pilot programme and partnership to new client sites. We look forward to sharing more of these stories in the near future.