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Radiate event on Leadership and disability

25 September 2013

Radiate event - ‘Leadership and disability: what it takes, what it costs and why it matters’

On 23 September legal firm Irwin Mitchell hosted a Radiate network event at its London office. It featured a conversation between Disability Rights UK Chair Phil Friend and Chris (now Lord) Holmes, Disability Commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and recently appointed a Conservative peer.

Chris is a former Paralympic swimmer (representing Britain at four Paralympics from 1988 to 2000), Director of Paralympic Integration at London 2012 and a former Non-Executive Director of the Disability Rights Commission. He lost his sight as a teenager due to a genetic eye disorder. Alongside his swimming training, he studied politics at Cambridge.

The evening was introduced by Alex Rook, a partner in Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law Team, who spoke about the firm’s interest in disability equality issues.

Phil and Chris discussed aspects of Chris’s career, his reflections on being a disabled leader and the ingredients of success (very hard work, never letting anyone tell you you can’t do something and regarding setbacks as an opportunity for learning). Questions from the floor included:

  • how Chris would reconcile apparently conflicting rights in his work at the EHRC, for example in relation to women doctors or nurses wearing the niqab and the needs of deaf people for clear communication
  • the ingredients of success as a disabled leader and what can bolster resilience
  • whether equality legislation could be simplified and more strongly enforced.

Irwin Mitchell is one of the UK’s largest and most respected law firms. As a full-service law firm, it has experts in everything from personal injury claims and family law to real estate and corporate law. As well as kindly hosting this event, they have agreed to support at least one further event outside of London.

Irwin Mitchell is also a partner organisation with Disability Rights UK. for more information see http://disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2013/march/irwin-mitchell-partnership-disability-rights-uk

Phil Friend, Alex Rook and Lord Holmes