Quickfire with Mike Adams OBE

CEO of Purple
Issues around disability inclusion and diversity are racing up the agenda in all areas. Post-Covid social impact is becoming increasingly key. Staff want to work for brands that are truly committed. Customers now expect it and investors are increasingly demanding evidence.

Published in Essex Director Magazine. Autumn|Winter 2022

We spent five minutes with Mike and asked him about his work at Purple, and how he is striving to change the the disability conversation.

Tell us about Purple?

The disability market is worth £274 billion (the Purple Pound), but only 10% of businesses have any plan to access it. We are about supporting businesses to unlock this opportunity, driving a quality experience for disabled customers, with significant ripple effects in other areas of life, including employment. It’s about shifting the conversation from disability being seen as about charity, vulnerable people, and the government’s responsibility, to being about value, contribution, community and opportunity.

How can a business develop to become a truly inclusive workplace?

Just start. It can be as simple as adopting the six-second rule when speaking to someone with autism or a stammer. You ask your question and then wait six seconds for them to process and give you a much richer response, rather than jumping in and answering for them. It’s also important to make a broader statement of intent that you’re committed to these issues. No one will criticise you for trying, but in 2022 it is unacceptable to do nothing.

What can businesses do to engage and motivate employees and keep them?

Start the conversation. Did you know that 80% of disabled people have a hidden disability and, therefore, can choose whether to disclose it or not? I guarantee that any business with over 20 people will have a disabled person who may have chosen not to disclose. Organisations have begun talking about mental health, which is breaking down taboos. Most staff also have someone close to them who is disabled, so talking about it at work resonates and creates employee engagement.

How do you create a disability competitive advantage?

You must understand the disability market. This includes customers with a physical or sensory disability, as well as people with dyslexia, mental health issues, those on the autistic spectrum and people with, or recovering from, cancer. The golden thread is that they want to be valued, and to do that they must be acknowledged. Having imagery showing customers with different disabilities is a direct way of sending that message.

What attracts disabled customers to an organisation/business?

We’re about to find out. Purple Tuesday is about improving the disabled customer experience and has become the #1 brand because businesses can see the issue has huge attraction and traction, providing practical solutions to the built, online and people environments. As part of Purple Tuesday, we created a survey looking at what attracts disabled customers to brands. However, it is obvious; if you can’t get into a building, access a website, or feel that you aren’t valued, you are less likely to spend your money. The findings will include the views of over 2,000 disabled people worldwide.

How do you protect your reputation and enhance it?

Authenticity and quality. Value for money. Added benefits. None of this is disability specific, but it’s not always applied to disabled customers, who are the most loyal group to their brands. Once you have them they very rarely leave you. 

How do you shut off from the business and manage the work/life balance more effectively?

Difficult. I now have the right rhythm with a balance across seven days. I have five kids, so I’ve had to change my working patterns to allow me to do the school runs and provide a taxi service for clubs, which I believe are key ingredients to success.

Share This

Sign up for your free copy of the magazine

Sign up to receive your free hard copy or E-Copy of the magazine by post or email.