Lived Experience and its Role in Building an Inclusive Business

Business inclusivity is the aim of many founders, but it can be overwhelming if you don’t know the right first steps. This guest post from Phoebe Gibbons explores the importance of lived experience to any founder’s business inclusivity journey, and provides guidance on how to make inclusive business practices a cornerstone of your organisation, not just a tick box exercise. 

Building an Inclusive Business, with Phoebe Gibbons

We live in a world where inclusion is starting to be talked about more, however, we are far from a point where ‘true’ inclusion is at the heart, which is where it should be.

Businesses are now starting to recognise that they need to have policies and practices which ensure Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is reflected and that they are meeting their legal obligations such as those described in the Equality Act 2010. However, I question whether many businesses therefore still regard Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as a tick box exercise, and if this is the case, start to reflect on what many businesses are missing out on. 

I am in the early stages of setting up my own business to start meaningful conversations around the importance of truly embedding Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, with a particular focus on disability inclusion.

It is my firm belief that one of the key elements to ensuring that this can happen is making sure that all team members are responsible for, and involved in, conversations about Equity Diversity and Inclusion. 

Along with this, I am a firm believer that to truly understand some of the challenges faced by underrepresented groups, we need to hear from individuals who are living through these experiences.

This means creating a safe environment whereby people feel able to share their experiences to be able to educate and create change. At present, how I plan to do this is constantly evolving and this could be anything from facilitating conversations, to training. 

Three professionals in an office

I think, to an extent, there needs to be flexibility in the approach and diversity of thought as to what this looks like for those I will be working with. Initially, the focus will be on how individuals living with a physical disability can be included, based on my own lived experience. It is not for me to speak specifically about certain disabilities, but more to look at what can be done to ensure that true inclusion is at the heart of the organisation, through experiences I have had.

I am constantly learning about the business world and there are many challenges I am already encountering, which are in part due to my lack of knowledge and due to challenges which exist in society for disabled people. Some of these challenges include:

  • Knowing the most appropriate business structure to use
  • Knowing what I want to do but not knowing the best way to develop and sell this
  • Understanding the necessary legalities that are required
  • Being clear on how I can diversify the way in which I work
  • Challenges in setting up a business bank account due to limited accessible options
  • Having the confidence and belief that this will work
A woman signing at a laptop screen

I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the Hatch Launchpad programme this autumn, so that I can become more confident in addressing some of the current challenges I am facing and to hopefully play my part in making businesses, and society in general, more inclusive. 

To begin with, I have some top tips that businesses and organisations may wish to consider as they start to explore how they can be truly inclusive. 

Tips for Embedding Inclusivity

  • Acknowledge that Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is a journey that is always evolving
  • Ensure collective responsibility from the whole team for embedding Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Listen to the voice of lived experience
  • Accept that mistakes may be made but it’s about ensuring that these are learnt from

Being truly inclusive, and understanding what that means, will lead to so many benefits to the organisation. I believe that bringing real, lived experience to the conversation will help businesses and organisations to understand what being ‘truly’ inclusive means, not only acknowledging the need to do this, but also the many benefits it brings when this is the case.

About the Author: Phoebe Gibbons

I am in the very early stages of setting up a business, 3DOM and Inclusion, which looks to work with businesses and organisations to support them in their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion journey and to ensure that they are being truly inclusive.

I hope to do this in a unique way, through the lens of real, lived experience and using a variety of different tools to be able to do this including training, facilitation and consultation. Whilst initially starting small and as a sole trader, I have ambitions to develop this in the future. I am looking forward to engaging in the Hatch Launchpad programme to develop my business skills and knowledge.

If you would like to get in touch, please email 

Black and white headshot of Phoebe in a circle frame

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