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19 June 2018
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Angela Matthews is a senior consultant at the Business Disability Forum
Angela Matthews is a senior consultant at the Business Disability Forum

12 May 2017 | Angela Matthews 

The Business Disability Forum has been focusing on inclusive procurement with a wide range of private and public sector businesses, and we have seen a steady increase in performance in this area. 

This is good news: it means businesses are gathering pace in wanting to provide a better experience for people with a broader range of needs. This, in turn, means more is being demanded of facilities and estates management suppliers. 

Winning contracts is becoming more competitive in this area. We speak to an increasing number of businesses that have been exited from a procurement process because they have not been able to demonstrate how their offer is useable and has been reviewed by people with a wide range of impairments and needs. 

We are not just talking about people with sensory or mobility impairments or even just talking about disabled people. People with non-visible conditions (dyslexia, epilepsy, autism), older people, carers who look after someone else, someone who has a temporary injury, parents with using pushchairs – all fall within groups who we know have experienced difficulty when using buildings and facilities.

There is a legal angle. Businesses need to ensure they have taken measures to ensure suppliers can deliver products or services that are inclusive, non-discriminatory, and that adjustments can be made for clients whenever required. But basic legal compliance (which gives a minimum standard of expectations) under the Equality Act 2010 is no longer enough for high-performing, inclusive businesses to be satisfied that a third-party supplier can meet the needs of a diverse workforce or client base. 

Businesses are instead looking for inclusive products and services that are, simply, easy for people to use. Third-party suppliers also have a role in maintaining the quality and reputation of an end-user business. 

Angela Matthews is a senior consultant at the Business Disability Forum