Atos turns purple for disability inclusion

On Monday 3rd December, Atos’ UK&I Headquarters at London MidCity Place played host to a live streaming event to celebrate Purple Light Up. The Atos website and social media feeds went fully purple for the day and various sites had purple-themed events, including purple dress code, purple bakes and cakes and offices decorated with purple balloons!

The event – sponsored by Atos’ Adapt employee network, dedicated to supporting employees with physical or mental disabilities – was co-hosted by Neil Milliken, Global Head of Accessibility, and Sarah Brooks, Adapt Network Lead – who both wore purple footwear for the occasion. Neil and Sarah were pleased to welcome a fantastic range of speakers – from Atos’ own employees to keynote speaker Alastair Somerville from Acuity Design, who together introduced important themes such as neurodiversity, including dyspraxia and mental health.

What is purple light up?

Purple Light Up began in 2017, when Kate Nash – CEO of PurpleSpace – sent out a personal tweet asking what people thought about using the colour purple as one way of symbolising the experience of disability, and to encourage organisations to create a #PurpleLightUp on or around the 3rd December (the United Nations - recognised International Day of Persons with Disabilities).

The initiative has since gathered strong support from a wide range of organisations worldwide, which in 2018 have again brought together their networks, resource groups, allies, champions and supporters to celebrate the economic power of disabled people across the globe.

Why does it matter?

Over 1 billion people in the world have some form of disability – that’s 1 in 7. It can affect any of us at any time in our lives. In a growing global movement, over 160 countries have signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But there’s still more to be done. True inclusion comes from a world that accepts all human difference, where people demand their voices to be heard.

A packed agenda – and valuable insight

Neil Milliken opened Atos’ Purple Light Up event, talking about making accessibility sustainable, tying together the concepts of inaccessibility and pollution and looking at frameworks to address the issue at a macro level. Evelin Fecioru spoke about the Atos Mental Health Toolkit, while Emily Taylor shared a candid account of her personal experiences as a person with dyspraxia. Sarah Smye Rumsby, from the Accessibility team, then demonstrated adjustments available to Atos staff.

In a very engaging talk, keynote speaker Alastair Somerville argued that the only way forward for disability awareness was to “say no to normality”, while Sulaiman Khan spoke about how the creativity of disabled people wasn’t being utilised, particularly when it came down to addressing their own needs.

All speakers shared one common message: inclusion must be at the heart of policies and attitudes within organisations; only this way – and by building disability confidence along the way – they will see the full benefit of a truly diverse workforce.

Video recordings of all talks in Atos’ Purple Light Up are available for streaming here. You can also learn more about Atos’ diversity & inclusion networks by visiting We Are Atos – a portal dedicated to showcasing Atos’ employees and their work establishing better, more inclusive business practices.