Graduates of the Calibre programme presented their final projects to staff from across Imperial and celebrated their completion of the course.
Calibre is a talent development and leadership programme for staff who identify as neurodiverse or disabled, or who have a long term physical or mental health condition. This includes having disabilities or health conditions relating to COVID-19 such as long COVID. The latest cohort is the tenth to complete the programme, which has been designed to address the distinct and often subtle barriers disabled staff face in the workplace.
The graduation ceremony is an opportunity for participants to present their final project to other delegates and staff from across Imperial. This year guests included Professor Stephen Curry, Associate Provost (EDI), Harbhajan Brar, Director of Human Resources, and Tony Lawrence, Chief Financial Officer and co-sponsor of ABLE, the staff network for disabled employees and supporters.
Dr Ossie Stuart said: “Each year I have the privilege of meeting a new cohort of Calibre participants and being part of their journey of personal and professional growth. This would not be possible without the support of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre and Imperial’s ongoing commitment to its disabled staff.
“There is much work to be done to achieve equity for disabled people in the workplace and I am incredibly proud to see another group of disabled staff using their knowledge, experience and voices to create positive change.”
In his closing remarks, Tony Lawrence said: “For many, graduation signals the end of a journey and a celebration of the work that has been done to complete a course. For Calibre graduates it is not just a recognition of their hard work, but marks the beginning of a journey, for which they have been equipped with new skills and confidence.
“It has been a humbling experience to hear the personal stories of colleagues and learn about the barriers facing disabled people in the workplace. I am grateful to all who shared their experience and I look forward to my ongoing work with the disabled community as co-sponsor of ABLE.”
We hear from three of the graduates of Calibre 2023.
Tatiana Condreanu, Part Time Assistant Coordinator, Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication
“Calibre's emphasis on co-creating solutions to empower individuals is truly trailblazing. The program has been instrumental in helping me recognise that disability is not an individual's problem to overcome but rather a societal one to address together.
“The program is a testament to the belief that when barriers are removed, people of all abilities can rise to their full potential. Under the compassionate leadership of Dr Ossie Stuart, Calibre is transforming mindsets and cultivating leaders who will shape a more inclusive future for all.
“The impact of Calibre on me has been profound both personally and professionally. The program has equipped me with a vision and skillset to advocate for inclusion, leverage partnerships and motivate change. My final project focused on using theatre as a vehicle to raise awareness about the challenges of navigating higher education with a disability and co-create solutions to empower staff and students of all abilities. I created the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility) Theatre which, by partnering with stakeholders across Imperial, will help cultivate a community where every voice and talent is valued.”
Aabida Patel, Senior Business Analyst, Registry
“I have done several management qualifications and accreditations, but Calibre gave me something no other qualification has given me. It has given me the skills and capabilities to engender change that will provide equity for people with disabilities.
“Within my current capacity as Senior Business Analyst within the Registry Transformation Team, Calibre gave me a new lens on reviewing current processes and future developments to ensure there is no negative impact on people with protected characteristics.
“My final project focused on how shared open workspaces can be adapted for neurodivergent people or people with sensory challenges, and included a poem called ‘Box’ which details my personal growth journey of understanding my disability and the impact of Calibre on my confidence.”
Mari da Veiga, Partnerships and Programmes Manager, International Relations Office
“This was the first time I could discuss some of my challenges living with an invisible disability in the workplace without judgement and with a community of people facing similar experiences. That was very healing and supportive, and helped me gain confidence and perspective to speak up for change and reasonable accommodation without some layers of shame and fear I was not aware I was still carrying before going through this journey.
“The way most of us learned to look at disability, through a medical and ableist perspective where disability is an individual’s problem, perpetuates segregation, exclusion and inequality for everyone in many aspects of the workplace. This could be through hostile workspace architecture, unconscious bias in promotion and recruitment processes, and lack of consistent line management practices.
“Addressing and overcoming barriers to inclusion is not just about supporting disabled people – it can actually benefit much broader groups and address invisible and structural oppression and inefficiencies within organisations.
“My final project was a personal reflection of my journey living with multiple invisible disabilities and gaining a much more practical perception of the reasonable adjustments I need to support myself in the overall design of my work life. I was able to see clearly that I had learned to thrive professionally by getting the work done even to the detriment of my own physical and mental health.”
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