When Barclays set out to improve its accessibility for disabled people, it didn’t exactly set a low bar. ‘We wanted to become the world’s most accessible FTSE 100 company,’ says Mark McLane, Barclays’ global head of diversity and inclusion. ‘You may think that’s hard to achieve, but you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t try.’
And accessibility applies to both employees and customers. From recruitment and training to equipment and support, the organisation tries to make everything easier for its disabled staff – in turn it benefits by widening its talent pool and retaining employees. As for its customers, Barclays talks about services that are ‘barrier-free’. This includes technology such as talking cash machines and online sign-language translators, but also impeccable customer service. And, in a competitive market, you need to look after your customers or they’ll move banks.
As a first step in this journey, the bank became an early participant in the government’s Disability Confident scheme. The logic was that, in openly discussing issues around disability, the company would be forced to define what true accessibility actually meant.
For McLane, it’s about far more than providing wider doorways, or entrances with ramps. Barclays has already made plenty of innovations in its employment of disabled people. It’s built a team dedicated to developing and introducing accessible technology, while in recruitment, its Able to Enable programme opens up apprenticeships to those from harder-to-reach pockets of society, many of whom have disabilities.