009: Freelancing and Finding Work With a Disability, a Chat with Paralympian Liz Johnson

Today we’re privileged to be talking to Paralympian Liz Johnson about disability and the inequitable experience of disabled work-seekers who are often self-employed freelancers.  This is a really eye-opening chat as there are so many things that we ought to be aware of in relation to being inclusive.  We talk about the concept of #oneworkforce which is simply about increasing meaningful work opportunities for everyone, and how this can be achieved.  We discuss normalising difference, not just focussing on one thing at a time but taking a holistic view and being genuinely inclusive.

Many disabled people are self-employed and work freelance as they can control their environment.  Of course, by freelancing they are simply providing a professional service and any impairments are irrelevant as it’s a B2B relationship with whoever is buying their services.  Being engaged on a self-employed basis effectively removes any HR issues, enabling the firm and the individual to just focus on getting the work done.  Furthermore, the pandemic has shown that firms can be productive with a remote workforce, which also removes some barriers to engaging disabled people.

We also discuss Liz’s view on how our perceptions of people with disabilities have changed over the years.  Sport is powerful as everyone can relate to it in some form, and the Paralympics has shown the world what disabled people can achieve.  It should be easy to relate this our everyday world and ensure that everyone has an equitable experience, but that is not happening enough.  We can all drive positive change, listen to this episode to learn how.

About Liz Johnson

Liz is best known as a Paralympian swimmer, she won medals at three Paralympics; gold in Beijing, silver in Athens and bronze in London.  She has also been a World and European champion on multiple occasions. Since her very successful sports career, Liz earned success as a media commentator, public speaker, athlete mentor and community ambassador.

Now Liz is forging a very successful business career as MD of both The Ability People and their app Podium, where she is making a real difference to many people.  The Ability People is a social enterprise dedicated to empowering people with disabilities by helping companies adapt cultures, transforming professional lives and building better brands.  Podium is an online marketplace that connects skilled people with a disability or impairment directly with ambitious employers on a freelance basis and vice versa.

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