Chelmsford businessman Mike Adams wins the IoD’s first Disability Employment Director of the Year Award

Mike Adams, Chief Executive of Essex-based social enterprise Purple, has been named Disability Employment Director of the Year in recognition of his company’s mission to “change the conversation on disability”.

He was presented with the prize at the Institute of Directors’ annual Director of the Year Awards ceremony held on Friday in Central London. The new award has been created as part of the IoD’s own commitment to raise the importance of disability issues to business leaders.

The collective spending power of disabled people and their families (known as the ‘Purple Pound’) equates to £249 billion a year of value to the UK economy, but many businesses are failing to tap into this market opportunity. In addition, of the UK’s 11.5 million disabled people, just 47% are currently in work, compared to 80% of non-disabled people.

As Chief Executive of Purple, Mike has lead the transformation of legacy charity The Essex Coalition of Disabled People into a national not-for-profit organisation to help businesses realise the value of the ‘Purple Pound’. Headquartered in Chelmsford, Purple provides a specialist recruitment agency to help disabled people find jobs, and supports organisations to become better employers of disabled people and to achieve the government’s Disability Confident accreditation. The company aims to support 20,000 disabled people to find permanent jobs by 2020.

Commenting on the award, Mike said: “I couldn’t be more thrilled that the IoD has chosen to introduce a dedicated disability award, and I’m delighted to be its first recipient. To truly change the conversation on disability we need more leaders to follow in the IoD’s footsteps. We’d love to see twenty nominees for next year’s award, so that’s my challenge to the business community.”

Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “It is a great honour to be able to give the IoD’s first Disability Employment Award to someone who has dedicated so much time and effort to this cause. I cannot think of anyone more deserving. More and more directors understand that opening up their companies and their businesses to disabled employees and consumers is important.”

It was also announced that Purple will be working with the IoD to support them in becoming a Disability Confident Leader, the highest level of accreditation available through the government’s existing programme (Level 3).

Martin added: “The IoD has a big role to play in ensuring that busy directors have the tools and wherewithal to begin these conversations in the boardroom or with their staff in order to drive change in both individual attitudes and wider cultural perceptions. I am proud that the IoD itself has become Level 2 Disability Confident, and I look forward to working with the recipient of this award in getting our status to Level 3.”