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10 Reasons to Take Action on Accessibility

3 December 2013 at 9:12 am
Staff Reporter
Accessibility has been on Westpac’s agenda for many years through its Accessibility Action Plans, which outlines its strategy for supporting people with disability.

Staff Reporter | 3 December 2013 at 9:12 am


10 Reasons to Take Action on Accessibility
3 December 2013 at 9:12 am

Accessibility has been on Westpac’s agenda for many years through its Accessibility Action Plans, which outlines its strategy for supporting people with disability.

Creating a culture of inclusion is important for the Westpac Group.

And creating a culture of inclusion that allows staff and customers to prosper and grow is a great investment, says Jane Counsel, Head of Diversity & Flexibility for Westpac Group.

This International Day of People with Disability, Counsel shares why it’s important to build diversity and inclusion into an organisation:

1. Expand Your Talent Pool

Being an employer that welcomes and supports diversity in the workplace opens the door to talented employees who may otherwise be shut out.  

Over 12 per cent of Westpac’s employees identify as having a disability, and 62 per cent participate in flexible work arrangements (Westpac Group Diversity & Flexibility Survey 2012).

From recruitment to retention, incorporate strategies that allow you to find and keep your best people, such as educating hiring managers on being confident about employing people with disability and integrating them into their teams

2. Promote Equity

One in five Australians has a disability (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009). When all members of your community can participate with your organisation, you are upholding your obligation and commitment to serve and include the whole community.

3. Bring Innovation

Applying principles of accessible design to your business stimulates innovative thinking that leads to a better experience for more of your customers.

For example, a ramp created for wheelchair access also makes your premises accessible to parents with prams; making web sites accessible can lead to a simple and effective design that appeals to more customers.

4. Deeply Understand Your Customers

Taking empathetic action creates a real difference to your customers. Westpac Group’s ABLE Employee Action Group is a network of employees who have volunteered to champion accessibility in the business and recently won a National Disability Award*.

Majella Knobel, Chair of ABLE, has been an active member since its inception in 2010.

“ABLE is about taking action and advocating for the change we want to make. For example, our Auslan sign language interpreters bring a deep understanding of the Deaf community to the table and play a role in helping educate others about doing the right thing,” Knobel said.

5. Be a Champion for Positive Change

Share your thinking and increase the waves of positive difference you generate. By asking your supply chain to demonstrate their commitment to accessibility, you can broaden your influence and impact.

6. Improve Workplace Wellbeing

Mental health issues are perhaps the most under-reported, yet over-represented concerns of staff. By giving employees access to support and systems that promote physical and mental health, you can improve the wellbeing of your most important resource – your people.

7. Enhance Your Reputation

All your customers should have a great experience with your organisation. If you have delivered an unmet need, enabled them to do their business with ease, or exceeded expectations, customers are more likely to connect with your organisation and recommend you to others.

8. Reduce Mistakes, Reduce Costs

By considering disability and diversity as part of your everyday business, you can build accessibility into systems and processes right from the start which ultimately may save you time, money or adverse reputational impacts.

9. Be Inspired

People with a disability are also role models for ability. Westpac is a proud employer of a number of Paralympians, whose flexible work arrangements allow them to combine rewarding careers with sporting success.

Matt Levy, a Change Analyst for Customer Contact Centres, is a Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer.

“One of the things I appreciate working for Westpac Group is we support people of all abilities and encourage them to shine … that filters through the culture of the entire organisation,” Levy said.

10. Dispel myths such as cost impacts

The average added cost of adjustments to the workplace for a person with a disability is just $500. And with support from government agency, Job Access, employers can be assisted with professional advice and financial assistance to make the workplace accessible.

For more information on Job Access visit

For more on Westpac Group’s 2013 Accessibility Action Plan, visit

*The National Disability Awards aim to honour and recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals, teams and organisations that have improved the lives of people with disability. Nominations are accepted across nine award categories. Westpac Group’s Diversity and Flexibility Team and the ABLE Employee Action Group won the 2013 Excellence in Improving Employment Opportunities Award.

Westpac Group is focusing on five key areas in its 2013 Accessibility Action Plan, to make a positive impact and create a sustainable difference in the lives of people with disability:

  1. Employment, training and career development: Creating an inclusive workplace culture that truly embeds accessibility and ensures that our people leaders are committed and equipped to creating fulfilling careers for all team members, resulting in the highest number of employees in corporate Australia disclosing they have a disability.
  2. Financial independence: Growing the financial independence and knowledge of people with disability by offering training, education and services that meet their needs.
  3. Embedded accessibility in banking products and services: Enhancing the accessibility of banking channels so all customers have a consistent and outstanding experience whenever and however they bank with us.
  4. Accessible communities: Sharing our experience in making accessibility a priority with other Australian organisations by joining with community and business partners to increase employment and development opportunities for people with disability in the community.
  5. Accessible communications: Creating opportunities to positively represent disability in the design and creation of our customer communications and product materials.



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