Calibre leadership programme class of 2017 graduate


The participants of the 2017 Calibre Programme

15 participants graduated from the Calibre Leadership Programme for disabled staff last week at Imperial.

The Calibre Leadership Programme is a leadership development programme designed to address the specific challenges faced by disabled staff working in higher education that can put them at a disadvantage from their peers. Participants are encouraged to develop and implement strategies at an organisational level that address the unique challenges and experiences of disabled staff.

Dr Ossie Stuart, who designed the programme, said: "This unique programme is about empowering people to help themselves, to the benefit of the whole organisation - not just the participants."

Steve Rathborn, Head of Organisational Design and Development, presented each graduate with their certificate. He said: "I am proud that Imperial initiated this programme and want to thank everyone who made it possible – in particular Ossie who turns dreams into reality".

The programme is supported by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre (EDIC) and the Learning and Development Centre (LDC) at Imperial, and participants are drawn from across the College and other higher education institutions.   

We caught up with two of this year's participants:

Alexandra Williams, Centre Support Manager, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Alexandra WilliamsAs Communications and Events Representative for Able@Imperial, the disabled staff network, I was attracted to the Calibre programme because of its focus on leadership.  Calibre has given me more confidence to speak clearly about the issues facing disabled staff. I had the passion, but Calibre has shown me concrete ways that I can address the challenges that I face in my work as well as those of my colleagues through my role on the Able@Imperial committee.  

The programme reinforces that individuals with impairments are not the problem, but rather should be understood as people who face different barriers. Able@Imperial’s name reflects the ethos of the Calibre programme – we seek to remove the ‘dis’ from ‘disable’.

In my project, I am exploring a “Yes/No” sign that staff with desks in open plan areas could use when they are trying to concentrate on a specific piece of work to avoid regular interruptions, just as you would if you had your own office with a door. This is particularly useful for people like me who have dyslexia and dyspraxia and who may find it harder to concentrate, but it could also benefit everyone at the College who works in an open plan office.

Karine Larose, Systems Librarian, Library Services

Karine LaroseThe Calibre Programme has been a real life changer for me and came at a time when I was facing disabling barriers in my professional life. I really felt connected to the programme and found it refreshing that barriers disabled people face at work were explored in an honest way.

The Calibre Programme gave me the confidence to explore my own disability and provided me with theoretical insights, as well as giving me a practical guide to deal with barriers related to my disability in both my profession and personal life.

My personal highlight was learning about the social model of disability and how Imperial has a responsibility to make modifications in the workplace so that employees with disabilities can fully participate.  I realised that positive actions that create an inclusive environment cannot happen where barriers go unchallenged; the Calibre programme equipped us to take the lead in challenging such barriers.

In my current role as Systems Librarian, I am involved with User Experience (UX) research in Library Services. As part of my Calibre project, I will be developing an Inclusion Framework which will ensure our UX research recognises the various needs of all of our users. The project will hopefully bring a positive change to the services we provide in the Library.

Main photograph: Thomas Angus

Additional photography: Michael Edwards


Henry Rothery

Henry Rothery
Communications and Public Affairs

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Equality, Staff-development, Strategy-staff-community
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