Is there an unseen barrier blocking those with disabilities from landing senior roles?

Is there an unseen barrier blocking those with disabilities from landing senior roles? Is there an unseen barrier blocking those with disabilities from landing senior roles?

February 22, 20222 min read
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It has been revealed that a lack of disclosure and transparency by major corporations may be a deterrent or unseen barrier to allowing those with disabilities to realize a role in senior leadership.


Recently, Neil Heslop, the Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation - a leading international charity which distributed almost £1 billion ($1.35 billion USD) to charities around the world last year - was featured in Raconteur where his story of having to learn to game the system was one of the only ways he was able to find up the corporate ladder, simply because he had a disability.



After Neil Heslop graduated from the University of Newcastle with a law degree in 1988, he conducted an experiment. Understanding that the fact he’d lost his sight could have an impact on his employability, he made 20 job applications. Identical in every other respect, half of the CVs he sent out mentioned that he was blind and the other half did not. The 10 CVs with that disclosure landed him one interview, while the 10 without elicited nine.

Heslop went on to spend 25 years in the telecoms industry, serving as CEO of US company Cincinnati Bell moving into the third sector, where he currently works as CEO of the Charities Aid Foundation.

He observes that his success is far from typical for blind people. “For anyone with my disability, it’s pretty unusual even to be in paid work. And it’s extremely unusual for them to have the kinds of careers that I’ve been fortunate enough to have.”
Heslop is probably right. When it comes to achieving ethnic and gender diversity on boards, numerous studies have suggested that some progress has been made and more work is still to be done. But it seems that disabled people are so underrepresented at the top level that the data is barely monitored. Experts believe that both measurement and management are needed to change the situation. Raconteur - January 31, 2022




Neil Heslop is the Chief Executive of Charities Aid Foundation, a leading charity operating in the UK and internationally. Neil works to connect private philanthropists and businesses with charities and not-for-profit enterprises. The Charities Aid Foundation are experts in ensuring donated funds reach charities and social enterprises as effectively as possible and provides specialist services to people and businesses supporting charities overseas.


Neil is available to speak with media regarding the need for more people with disabilities in corporate positions of leadership and on topics including philanthropy, tax-effective giving, and cross-border support for charities. Simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview today.




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  • Neil Heslop, OBE
    Neil Heslop, OBE Chief Executive, Charities Aid Foundation

    Neil Heslop is a business and charity leader, connecting private philanthropists, governments, charities and not-for-profit enterprises.

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