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Blooming Great! Whitbread marks Purple Tuesday by signing up to Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

26 Oct 2022 Brand

Premier Inn Purple Tuesday

To mark this year’s Purple Tuesday (Tuesday, November 01) – the movement striving to improve customer experience for disabled people and their families year-round – hospitality sector sponsor Whitbread today reveals it is committing to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.

The pledge is part of Whitbread’s diversity and inclusion programme under its Force for Good corporate social responsibility scheme which commits to creating opportunities for teams and guests, giving back to local communities and operating responsibly. 

The UK’s biggest hospitality company Whitbread, which welcomes millions of guests into its Premier Inn hotels and restaurant brands including Beefeater and Brewers Fayre every month, is signing up to the Sunflower, which enables people with invisible disabilities to discreetly indicate they may need additional support, help or a little more time with their transaction – such as checking in or ordering a drink or meal.

Recognising that without a visual cue, it can be difficult for people – including those working in hospitality – to identify, acknowledge, or understand the daily barriers faced by people living with an invisible disability, the Sunflower cleverly allows guests to choose to wear a lanyard featuring the Sunflower logo to indicate they may need extra assistance.

Non-visible disabilities can be physical, mental or neurological and include, but are not limited to, autism, cognitive impairments such as learning difficulties and dementia, as well as mental health conditions, speech or visual impairments or hearing loss. They also include respiratory and chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, chronic pain and even sleep disorders.

In addition to delivering the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower training across its 30,000 team members to understand and recognise the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, Whitbread will also be displaying information in its hotels and restaurants across the UK, showing it is a ‘Sunflower-friendly’ business.

Premier Inn in the Middle East is also on board for Purple Tuesday as hospitality partner in the UAE, where the event is taking place for the first time.  Under the collaboration, team members at all 11 Premier Inn hotels in the MENA region will be trained to recognise the needs of people with hidden disabilities and apply enhanced customer service skills to ensure they get the right support to make their stay easy, welcoming and one to remember.

Simon Ewins, Managing Director for Premier Inn and Restaurants and the Executive Sponsor for Disability Inclusion: “We are delighted to be the hospitality sector sponsor for Purple Tuesday and launch the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower in our hotels and restaurants across the UK. We’re proud to welcome millions of disabled customers, as well as people with long-term health conditions, to our hotels and restaurants across the UK every year. True inclusion never stands still – it’s a commitment that continually evolves and we are always looking for ways to improve our guest experience, which is why we’re so proud to be part of the global network. As an inclusive employer we also know it’s an initiative that will inspire our team members, some of course who themselves have disabilities, and we are therefore really looking forward to getting our restaurants teams as well as our very own ‘purple people’ behind Purple Tuesday both on the day itself and year-round.’

Mike Adams OBE, CEO, Purple and creator of Purple Tuesday said: “We are proud to have welcomed Whitbread as the Purple Tuesday UK Hospitality Partner, working together to influence positive changes for disabled customers and their families across the industry. Disabled people deserve to have seamless and quality customer experiences like everyone else and through commitments to improve accessibility and practices from organisations like Whitbread we will start to see this become the norm.  We look forward to building a long-term relationship with Whitbread and their staff to enhance the experiences of all disabled customers that access their hotels and restaurants.”

Paul White, CEO, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower said: “We are delighted that Whitbread have joined the global Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network and have trained 30,000 employees to support Sunflower wearers in their many hotels and restaurants. Our goal is simply to improve the everyday experiences for people with non-visible disabilities, ensuring that they have an end-to-end journey when wearing the Sunflower be it for work or leisure.  Visitors and guests can feel confident that they will be met with kindness, understanding and patience when dining or enjoying a night at any one of the 800+ Premier Inn hotels.”

Whitbread is committed to supporting all its colleagues, including those from under-represented groups such as those with disabilities, people who are ethnically diverse and those who identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans sexual, non-binary or use another term.

Over the past 12 months it has continued to drive its’ eight commitments to Diversity and Inclusion.  Here are a few highlights:

  • Published its’ 2022 Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gap report, the first time it has published a voluntary ethnicity pay gap externally
  • Continued to equip teams at all levels tools and resources including dedicated training to equip them to build and support a more inclusive environment
  • Through four inclusion networks, including a nearly set up enAble disability network, continued to ensure minority groups have a voice and empower them to help drive change
  • Marched at Manchester Pride with our LGBTQ+ network
  • Pledged to ensure diversity is celebrated at key points throughout the year including; Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Race and Equality Week, LGBQ History Month, Religious holidays

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