5 Big Questions: MIKE ADAMS OBE


How do we change the conversation about disability for good?

What can disabled leaders teach about the real power of ‘vulnerability’?

How can you be more purple?

In this week’s 5 Big Questions interview we talk to entrepreneur, innovator and equality campaigner MIKE ADAMS OBE.


 Transcript available upon request


The possibility club podcast - 5 Big Questions. Mike Adams OBE on running a global business, redifining disability and #beingpurpleKnown for:

  • CEO – We Are Purple
  • Executive Director – CareTech
  • Former CEO – Essex Coalition of Disabled People
  • Former Non-Executive Director – Mid Essex Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Former Director of Delivery, Learning and Leadership – Disability Rights Commission

The 5 Big Questions:

Measuring change How do you measure the impact of what you do?

Ready for anything - future proofingHow should people/businesses be preparing for the future?

Skills, talent & opportunityHow do we build the workforce we need for that future?

Embedded innovationHow do you use creativity to solve problems?

Bold connections, collaborationHow do you collaborate?

Key quotes:

“It’s been an interesting journey for me because from day dot, I was born with a disability, I have been defined as ‘vulnerable’ and I have raged against the machine about being labelled this ‘vulnerable’ individual because I happened to have a disability. Then as you go on your Chief Executive, leadership journey, they start telling you that the more vulnerable you are, as a leader, the more impact you can have. The irony has not been lost on me!”

“The ‘purple pound’, the consumer spending power of disabled people and their families equates to £274billion per year and it’s rising at 14% per annum.”

“We buck convention. How do you make an issue inclusive? How do you make an issue relevant to non-disabled people, so they become part of the journey and transform the lives of disabled people? The way that we did it was to focus on the economics.”

“If there is a legacy of Covid it will be the greater influence of social impact on investors, businesses, customers and staff. I think we’re starting to see it talked about much more than just a tokenistic tick-box.”

“In this decade, organisations that get disability, inclusion, diversity, will absolutely thrive. Those that don’t will struggle to survive and I really believe that.”

“What kind of society, neighbourhoods, workplaces, do we really want in the end? If you look at it in terms of what you’re trying to shift, change and create in the end, it helps you to think through a much longer-term thought process on what the right skills would be and knowledge would be.” 

“I would say to all your listeners: go on your work website, unplug your mouse, and see how well you can navigate. It’s a really good barometer about how accessible you are.” 

“Digital development has exploded a lot of the myths around the ‘built environment’ and lifts and ramps and all of those kind of things. It’s strange: organisations are being pushed and forced into places that will benefit them enormously.”

Useful links

This episode was recorded in June 2022

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


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