Introducing Scope's new CEO

01 February 2019

It’s a really exciting time for our partnership with the disability equality charity, Scope, as their new Chief Executive, Mark Hodgkinson begins his role.

We’re seeing a sea-change in how disability is being perceived. Last month, disability inclusion took centre-stage at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, where a number of global business leaders committed to putting the topic on their board agenda in 2019.

Our partnership with Scope aims to transform the lives of disabled people across the UK. Our #WorkWithMe programme aims to support a million disabled people to get and stay in work by the end of 2020, as well as encourage other businesses to do what they can to share learnings and improve opportunities for disabled people, too

I recently met with Mark to talk about his vision and what he wants Scope to achieve in the coming year:  

Why the move to Scope and the charity sector?

I was very keen “to give something back”.  Having worked in the commercial sector most of my life I felt I had a set of skills and experiences which I could bring to the charity sector and hopefully make a difference.  I strongly believe in equality and fairness and was then particularly grasped by Scope’s goal to seek everyday equality for disabled people.

What’s your focus for the coming year at Scope and what change can we expect to see?

It’s early days and I am very much in listening mode at present but a big priority for me is to really bring the fantastic strategy that Scope has developed to life. 

We’ve started a number of great things, but there remains much to do. One thing I have learned from my own experience at [previous employer] Virgin Money is the value of focus to create impact. We, Scope, talk about being ‘disability gamechangers’ and I want to ensure we put real focus and substance behind that ambition to achieve the change we want to see. I see partnerships like ours and co-creation as key to achieving this so that we are really engaging and empowering the disabled people we work with.

Where do you want to take our partnership next?

Our partnership is already of great value and I see huge value from us working together going forward. I have no doubt that this will be a key focus for me as a means of creating real transformative change for disabled people. I plan to stay closely involved in everything we are working on.

I see this taking shape through the pioneering ‘Support to Work’ service, our ‘#WorkWithMe’ platform and the broader business mobilisation around disability that has been catalysed as a result of our partnership. We have created firm foundations and now have the ability to lead and create a legacy of fundamental change in disability inclusion in the workplace. Infact, our partnership was one of the things I discussed in my interview – it’s hugely exciting and one of the best corporate partnerships out there.

But that said, there is so much more we can do. I want to bring a renewed focus and ambition to the partnership and I will have more to say about that in the coming months!

What’s your view on the progress of our #WorkWithMe campaign and Support to Work Service?

Last year, we joined forces to create a unique service, which disabled people told us was something which they felt would really support them in getting into work. We could not have begun this without Virgin Media support and commitment to work together over a period of time to set up, embed and develop this pioneering service. To date through our partnership 121,525 disabled people have been supported to get into and stay in work. Behind this huge number is an individual whose life has been significantly changed as a result. But I do think we at Scope are capable of much more with the right ambition.  I have the appetite for us to reach so many more disabled people through this service and to better articulate the impact to influence change.

Together through our #WorkWithMe platform and microsite we have established a contemporary business to business platform and microsite through which to create a much needed ‘go-to hub’ to drive change in business practice. This is a strong foundation and I am excited at working together to build on this during the coming year.

What’s your advice on encouraging others to have confident conversations on disability?

Make a start! There is always some apprehension about the unknown but by making a start you’ll realise that there is much to gain and I am certainly intending to reach out to my broad business network to get that message across.

What’s your personal purpose?

I always want to make a difference to every day. I ask myself what impact have I made by being in that meeting or doing that task. It’s very easy to get caught up in activity in a business and lose a sense of purpose.

What brands or charities inspire you?

If it’s not too trite, Virgin of course!  I am less inspired by brands and more by the acts of people in those organisations.  I strongly believe in engaging and empowering your customers. Some businesses start off doing that really well and then forget to do so when they become big and “successful”.