OPENDisAbility+Allies UK 2019/2020

Afua Basoah and Stephen Marchant introduce Omnicom’s first disability business resource group, OPEN DisAbility+Allies UK and outline their plans for the year coming.

Afua Basoah & Stephen Marchant

OPEN DisAbility + Allies UK


Omnciom has long focussed on putting diversity and inclusion at the centre of its business model. The Omnicom People Engagement Network (OPEN) is Omnicom’s umbrella group for all the company’s network employee engagement groups and activities. These groups work to foster an inclusive and engaging work environment as well increase networking and business opportunities. In the UK, Omniwomen+Allies UK, focusses on gender diversity and equality and OPEN Pride+Allies UK focusses on LGBTQI inclusion. In May 2019, under the auspices of #AbleToDoMore, Omnicom launched its first disability business resource group, OPEN DisAbility+Allies UK.

Working closely with their committee members, Co-Chairs of OPEN DisAbility+Allies UK, Afua Basoah, Vice President at the global health strategy firm, Rabin Martin and Stephen Marchant, President, Group Strategy & Growth at Chameleon are resolute in their ambition for this BRG: “Do more”.   

Our work covers two major strands. Firstly, talent, talent retention and talent acquisition, and secondly, representation in our agency’s outputs. Supporting around 9,000 Omnicom UK employees, it is a strategic imperative that our workforce is reflective of ‘Real Britain’. We recently conducted a census of Omnicom’s UK agencies and found that 11% of employees have a long-term illness or disability, against 20% of UK population and 27% London, with 79% of these disabilities invisible. When asked, ‘have you disclosed your disability’, 61% said they have, but 33% have not.

Undoubtedly, there various reasons that this cohort have not disclosed but the ideal situation is that everyone feels comfortable and safe enough to bring their whole selves to the work environment, knowing that the appropriate support is guaranteed. Raising awareness of the scale, scope and opportunity afforded by the disability talent pool and the incredible benefits that employing a more diverse, more inclusive group could bring to our agencies.

We also want to redress the imbalance within the wider population living with visible, invisible and intermittent disabilities. We also recognise that we are going to make some mistakes on our journey to true inclusivity, but we are firm in our commitment to provide the impetus, support and wherewithal to help our agencies become truly inclusive of persons with disabilities.

employees have long-term illness or disability
of these disabilities are invisible
have not disclosed their disability


Our emphasis has shifted from solely raising awareness of disability inclusion to providing practical tools and support to actively drive inclusion and representation. Under the banner of #HowToDoMore, our inaugural OPEN DisAbility UK + Allies Summit took place on the 3rd December, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, with the key objective of equipping our Omnicom employees with tangible tools and resources to support their disability inclusion journey. The Summit covered the lived experience of people with disabilities and, sought to drive disability inclusion, raise awareness of those who have a visible or invisible disability, and build a community approach towards disability amongst Omnicom’s agencies in the UK. 

An audience, with representation from 34 Omnicom UK agencies, were treated to an outstanding line-up of disability inclusion experts. Each shared their own powerful experiences of disability, highlighting the importance of representation within organizations. Caroline Casey of Valuable 500, Julie Seal of Facebook, Lisa Hopkins, Scott Watkin, and Lance Campbell of SeeAbility, Shannon Murray, actor, writer, lawyer and activist; and award-winning Times columnist Melanie Reid each provided both inspiration and actionable counsel to the audience. Summit attendees were invited to the ‘#HowToDoMore Marketplace’ after the key plenary sessions to meet more disability inclusion experts including Dr Helen Taylor, Autism Forward, BECO/The Soap Co and ASMentoring.

Importantly, we launched our ‘labour of love’: the #HowToDoMore Toolkit housed on Omnicom’s worldwide internal platform. A collection of tools and resources to support all agencies become “disability inclusion SMART”. The evolving toolkit includes, a Disability Confident Guide and a Disability Experts Guide, among other vital information.

On December 3rd, we also hosted our first OPEN DisAbility UK CEO Basecamp entitled, “Disability is a strategic issue for business leaders”. Moderated by Dr James Partridge OBE, Director, Face Equality International and Dr Alice Maynard CBE, Director, Future Inclusion, CEOs and HR leaders from across the Omnicom UK network met for an interactive discussion to highlight some of the issues relating to disability in the working environment, and to create a ‘safe-space’ in which the issues relating to disability employment and representation could be discussed. We were excited by the level of engagement, energy and commitment to do more and encouraged by the appetite for continued collective dialogue to drive action and tangible impact across Omnicom

With two further basecamps planned for the first half of 2020, we are looking forward to moving the dial for our people and for the wider community.

NB: Omnicom Group is committed to change when it comes to disability inclusion and representation and we are signatories of The Valuable 500. The Valuable 500 was launched with Omnicom Group as their strategic partner, and John Wren, CEO of Omnicom Group, was one of the founding signatories and supporters. In signing, we commit to putting disability inclusion on the company agenda at board level.

Afua Basoah

Afua Basoah.png

Vice-President and D&I Co-Lead

Rabin Martin

With an unwavering passion to transform cutting-edge research, clinical evidence, and insights into levers that increase patient and population health outcomes, Afua has nearly 15 years of consulting experience focused on designing strategies and developing partnerships to help clients strengthen their global health leadership. As Rabin Martin’s European lead, Afua also specializes in serving Rabin Martin’s European clients to develop innovative market access strategies facilitating access to healthcare in emerging global markets. Recently appointed as Rabin Martin’s D&I co-lead, Afua is dedicated to championing diverse experiences, thinking, and voices, cultivating environments where all employees can bring their whole selves to work and contribute to their fullest potential. She believes this truly drives the unique value built for clients. Before joining Rabin Martin, Afua held roles as Managing Director and European Business lead at ApotheCom and Client Service Lead at Ogilvy Healthworld, UK. She holds a DPhil in Neurosciences from the University of Oxford.

Stephen Marchant

Stephen Marchant.jpg

President, Group Strategy & Growth


Stephen joined Chameleon in 2004 as editorial director, but over the next few years transitioned into client service and management roles, first heading up a client service team and eventually being appointed commercial director, then president of the London office, president of the European operation, and most recently President responsible for group global strategy and growth. Stephen ensures Chameleon is focused on the future, to provide the cutting-edge strategy, service, and creativity on which its reputation is based. Stephen is passionate about Chameleon’s CSpirit community engagement program, with specific emphasis on diversity and inclusion, purpose, sustainability, and charitable giving. As a long-term Crohn’s disease patient, disability inclusion and adaptation are close to his heart, with particular emphasis on unseen illness and disability.

Guest Author

Afua Basoah & Stephen Marchant

OPEN DisAbility + Allies UK


Afua Basoah and Stephen Marchant introduce Omnicom’s first disability business resource group, OPEN DisAbility+Allies UK and outline their plans for the year coming.