Unfucking work with Rachael Mole
Rachael Mole is the founder of SIC, an organisation transforming the UK workplace for disabled and chronically ill professionals. An inclusive work culture expert, Rachael takes academic theory combined with lived experience of disability to lead both small and large-scale operations to effectively make change. We sat down with her for this months Unf*cking Work podcast, listen to the episode here.
What is the one thing you would do to unilaterally unfuck work?
Start a conversation about fear. What is stopping a leader/ manager from making the
decisions that would ultimately help everyone? Fear of saying the wrong thing?
Offending? Looking silly? Being sued? Accessible work isn’t the aim, inclusive work
culture is, and the inclusive work practices that create an accessible working
environment for disabled and neurodiverse people benefit everyone.
In the UK we use the social model of disability, which lays out that the impairment of
an individual is separate to the disability. It is society, the built environment and the
self-policing within communities that disabled someone. So using this definition who
else *could* be disabled by society? Single parents? Care givers? Care leavers?
People who have to work two jobs? People who live a long commute away from their
job due to economic barriers?
Once we’ve tackled those core fears, unpacked unconscious bias and equipped a
leader with the right language so they can move forward with confidence, we get to
questions like ‘what can I/ we do as an organisation to support you, so you can be
the best version of you’- a question we should, ultimately, be asking everyone.
What is the best example of unfucking work you’ve seen in the wild?
Love them or hate them, META is a great example of doing inclusive work right.
Their remote working policy, and diversity hiring strategy have put them TWO years
ahead of schedule on their diversity and inclusion strategy.
I am a huge advocate for remote work (when done properly) being used as a tool to
hire and retain a more inclusive workforce. It isn’t as simple as just ‘allowing’ remote
work, there is so much more behind making sure this attracts the right people, and
that the culture is right to retain them. So even though META are reporting great
things now, it will be interesting to see where they are in a few years.
As a side note, they are also implementing diversity as a core strategy of their next
product, the metaverse, allowing for customisation of their avatars- for disabled
people with physical impairments this is the first time this kind of representation has
been offered. To get this right, and that this was even an idea they’ve developed,
shows that the disabled representation within their organisation is working.
Who is your unfucking work icon? The ultimate Work Pirate?
My co-founder and friend Alice Hargreaves, without her, SIC wouldn’t be where it is
today. She immediately got my vision, and we’ve been working hard since. Her own
squiggly career journey has been different to mine- the shared experience of chronic
illness against a different backdrop has really helped us when unpicking what the
real problem with accessibility and inclusion is in workplaces.
Recommend a book, podcast or article to our Work Pirates crew that made you
think differently about work.
Capitalism and Disability by Marta Russell. Studying disability from an academic
perspective has been a big influence on how I view disability, and also teach. All of
the academic theory I use has ultimately come from the past 40 years (as a field of
study, it’s a baby!) and is rooted in the experience of disabled activists who were at
the forefront of the disability rights movement. This is a short introduction to the
academic concepts, and how disability has been commodified in our society, you can
read Capitalism and Disability by Marta Russell here.
‘Nothing about us, without us’ is key to remember, so if you’re looking for any
literature or to learn about disability, accessibility, and inclusion, you need to ensure
you’re finding work written by disabled, chronically ill, and neurodiverse people.
If you’re looking for an easy read place to start, start here ‘The Complete Guide To
Employing Disabled People.’ It’s an introduction to recruitment, retention, policies