I am so excited to be writing this first blog as the Founder of Be #PeopleSmart Ltd. My name is Jodie Greer and I appreciate you taking the time to find out more about me and where Be #PeopleSmart came from.
When disability inclusion and accessibility are your passion, it’s exciting enough to get to drive the agenda for one global organisation, however to take the leap to launch a dedicated company to support many organisations is like an extra Christmas – and I really love Christmas.
I have felt very strongly about disability inclusion for as long as I can remember. I don’t have a disability myself, however even as a child it was evident to me that many people weren’t given fair chances just because people saw them as different. That didn’t make any sense to me then and as time moves on it makes even less sense as an adult.
I can remember being about 7 years old and always sitting beside a boy in my class at school who had a speech impairment, as the teacher always said he didn’t understand him. I just thought the teacher was a bit lazy, as I understood him perfectly well and I was a child, not the local translator. In fact that same boy had a mother with the same impairment and I didn’t have an issue understanding her either, she was one of the nicest adults I knew, it just took a little more of my attention.
There was another boy, who lived in my road, whose disability resulted in having no mobility control and being completely non-communicative. I always noticed that as his mother pushed his wheelchair people would ask her “how’s Ben?” and never did they say hello to Ben himself. I understood he couldn’t answer for himself, however to me not even addressing him directly was just rude. I always said hello to Ben before I even said hello to his mum, he was more my age anyway, and his mother mentioned the fact to me when I was a bit older which surprised me as I expected she was just used to how people interacted with the pair of them.
Over the years there were many instances when I recognised exclusion and as I got older I always wondered how I could take this passion in to the workplace. I found my first channel at Shell, where for more than a decade I was a key driver of disability inclusion and chaired the enABLE Network at Shell for several years. My persistence paid off with a centralised process developed to request and deliver adjustments and I then got the opportunity to take on a brand new role within the organisation, of IT Accessibility Lead, in 2017. I found myself in a global role driving accessibility and inclusion for digital solutions, hardware/equipment, communication and service delivery and I loved it.
Getting the opportunity to influence senior leaders – I’m definitely not shy about inclusion – and driving awareness across the world to improve ways of working, made me realise how I wanted my career to develop. Disability Inclusion and Accessibility Specialist is my profession, it may not be on those drop down lists (yet!), however that’s how I define myself. From networking externally I can see there is a big need for expertise like mine to help set other companies up for success and so here I am taking that leap to help others start their journeys.
How many organisations will I support in my career? I have no idea, however I am really looking forward to finding out. All I hope is that those who want the best workforce, a respectful workplace, increased custom and customer loyalty will have the courage to take the first step – we all have to start somewhere and together we can achieve a great deal.