We are currently in the judging phase of the prestigious 2019 KEiBAs (Kent Excellence in Business Awards).  Our judging panel, made up of representatives from bemix and our friends at The Specialist Employment Service part of The Education People, are busy considering applications for the new Valuing Disability Business of the Year Award category.

As part of our work focusing on inclusion in the workplace, we have been speaking to businesses across Kent to find out how they value disability.  We spoke to the document warehouse (TDW) in Sittingbourne.

Tell us briefly about the type of work you do at the document warehouse

the document warehouse (TDW) is a fast-growing International Document Management Company. Our UK Southern England base is in Sittingbourne, Kent.  TDW offers our customers a holistic offsite document storage solution. This includes various space-saving filing solutions and records management software necessary for effectively tracking files, onsite or offsite. In addition, we offer staffing provision, specialist training and consulting services to organisations.

What are your business beliefs about employment for people who are disabled and/or have a learning difficulty or autism?

TDW has a strong ethical stance on inclusion From promoting equality to how we operate globally, we recognise that everyone is equal and should have the opportunity to work and socialise.

How does the way you work promote these beliefs?  

At TDW we have employed numerous staff with autism and made reasonable adjustments to help them settle in to the ‘family’. Their journeys here have led them to be successful employees, often outperforming their peers and their work ethic and social skills and confidence have increased tremendously.
Based on this success, we began working with bemix in September 2018 to identify two young adults with autism to engage in a Supported Internship programme that runs up to the summer. Both love working here and are full members of our work family.
In addition to our standard ethical policies and training, we have had our employees, colleagues of the Interns, attend an autism awareness course to further enhance their understanding of their peers.
TDW values people. Without driven, committed, diligent and passionate employees we do not have a good business.

How has being part of the Supported Internships programme with bemix had an impact on the way you work and value disability?

Throughout our engagement with them, bemix have been professional, supportive and caring. They have supported our team and Interns at every stage to become become more confident and competent, both in terms of productivity and socially.
The work coaching that bemix provide for the interns along with the monthly reviews/goal setting and free autism awareness training, have helped make sure everyone is happy and that quality and productivity is kept to the high standards that our customers expect.

What have been the biggest challenges / benefits so far?

We wouldn’t consider engaging a productive, inclusive employee a challenge. It’s more of an opportunity for us.
Before the interns started, bemix provided us with in-depth information, knowledge and support about each individual, which allows us to really know them and ensure they are a great match for the business. Having the interns here has helped create an all-inclusive environment that has had a very positive impact on the staff morale.

"Having the interns here has helped create an all-inclusive environment that has had a very positive impact on the staff morale" - Sandy, the document warehouse

What would you say to other businesses who are thinking about increasing their employment opportunities for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities?

Inclusion is a right for everyone and here at TDW, we have seen first-hand the value of employing people with learning difficulties and/or autism.
Both loyalty and quality of outcomes from staff, are important in all businesses. In a challenging labour market, this untapped pool of valuable workers are often overlooked. In fact, their attitude to work, efficiency and above all loyalty are key benefits for engaging someone with a learning difficulty and/or autism.

Speak with the team at bemix about engaging a Supported Intern. The excellent attitude of the interns has nothing less than a positive impact on the wider workforce and business productivity as a whole.
If you haven’t already employed someone with a learning difficulty and/or autism, the common misconceptions soon disappear once they are discussed and, more importantly, when you see the value of the workers, you will wonder why you hadn’t done it years ago!