Why BT’s doing more to support disabled colleagues and customers

As the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games opening ceremony gets underway in a few days’ time, around eight years since BT sponsored London 2012, I’m excited to see some inspiring people from around the world compete over the coming weeks. This has been the summer of sport, with the Olympics, Euro 2020, Cricket, Wimbledon and now the Tokyo Paralympics 2020, we’ve watched in awe as athletes broke records and fought against the odds to win medals and trophies. 

We’ve seen this summer how sport can inspire people to be their best, to try new things, to defy the odds and our Hope United campaign against online hate has helped to tackle unacceptable language and behaviours that have absolutely no place in an inclusive, respectful society. 

Back in 2012, we were a proud sponsor of the London Paralympic Games. BT Sport has continued this support through our broadcast of the FA Disability Cup in July 2021, one of the most accessible broadcasts we have delivered to date. We recognise the influence disability sport has in changing how we communicate and the impact it has on the wider community. 

We’re working to build a business as diverse and vibrant as the communities we serve. We have around 100,000 colleagues in 180 countries. We believe in fairness, equality and respect for human rights, but of course, it’s what we do and how we act, not just what we believe, that really matters. 

Today, we’re backing the pioneering #WeThe15 campaign as we believe it’s time to recognise that disabled people represent 15% of the global population. We know that technology and business have the power to drive further social and digital inclusion, which is why we want to work with like-minded organisations to do more. 

Tonight, we’re joining others around the world, including the Colosseum in Rome and the London Eye, by turning London’s iconic BT Tower purple, to mark our support for this campaign. But, we’re doing much more than that. 

While many organisations have set gender and ethnicity targets, we have gone one step further. We have recognised the scale of this challenge and set ourselves two additional strategic goals in terms of the diversity of our workforce. We will be holding ourselves to account by publicly monitoring our progress against our disability related 2025 workforce diversity targets and our 2030 workforce ambitions.  

We’ll be aiming to deliver, through our Disability Rapid Action Plan (DRAP), the additional focus and resource needed to accelerate the pace of progress and achieve better outcomes for our disabled colleagues. As part of this programme we will recognise and give support to all colleagues who share that they have a neurodiverse condition, an impairment or a long term health condition.  

The DRAP along with the new targets will ensure the whole of BT works toward becoming more inclusive in the way we tailor our working environments and processes to support our disabled colleagues and the managers of disabled colleagues.  

We know this also means at least 15 percent of our current and future customer base is likely to be disabled which is why we believe in the importance of inclusive design. Thinking about inclusive design will not only widen the appeal of our products and services but it broadens the potential market we are aiming to attract. That’s why we’ve worked with the Global Diversity Innovation hub to create an inclusive design training toolkit to ensure we are designing and testing our products and services to fit the needs of our disabled customers. 

We’re proud signatories of The Valuable 500 and we’re helping to put disability on the business leadership agenda. Our products, such as the iconic Big Button telephone, to offering a British Sign Language video calling service for our customers as well as the provision of the Relay UK service which they run for everyone on behalf of all UK landline and mobile phone providers, we want our products and services to enable communications for all.  

All of this fits into our pan BT diversity and inclusion programme giving us a focus on attracting and retaining diverse talent, particularly to our new business focus areas such as our new Digital business unit. The breadth of our programmes means we’re also ensuring that diversity and inclusion are core foundations in our customer and supply chain strategies, and we’ll leverage our position as one of the world’s leading communications services companies to influence change that helps us all connect for good. 


Jackie Beer, BT Group Diversity and Inclusion Director