Equality, Diversity & Inclusion: The Workplace Passport in Heritage

12th January, 2022

This article is paired with two toolkits: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit and Inclusive Communications.

You can also listen to the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Podcast.

Adopting and embedding tools such as the workplace passport empowers our people, creates opportunity to have conversations that deepen our understanding and expands our awareness of what our people need. It moves us towards a culture of inclusion and a more equitable experience.

– Sarah Simcoe, EMBED


Our needs can change at any point in our lives – whether that’s from an acute or chronic illness, changes with age, or from a disability. Lifestyle changes can also mandate workplace changes – for example, converting to a different religion can require scheduled adjustments for prayer breaks or dietary accommodations.

A Workplace Passport documents needs and encourages understanding, whether that’s around a condition or impairment, caring responsibilities or needs related to other protected characteristics such as observance of faith. It’s aimed to be supportive and informal.

This blog draws from the longer webinar ‘Tools for Workplace Inclusion’, given by Becki Morris (Director, Disability Collaborative Network) and Sarah Simcoe (Creator and Founder, EMBED) as part of the Rebuilding Heritage training programme. You can see the original webinar here.

What is a Workplace Passport?

First used more than a decade ago by BT, a Workplace Passport is a live, confidential record between an employee and their manager of adjustments agreed between them to support the employee’s work. This can cover health and disability, but is not limited to these aspects. The employee owns the passport and can share it with anyone who needs to know about their circumstances and needs. Flexible working, and particular types of office furniture may be part of the picture – but accommodations should not be narrowly defined by those two aspects.

Passports can also support a team member about to embark on a new role, new project, funding bid, store move and/or refurbishment, to support any workplace adjustments required. Planning ahead in this way helps create a cycle of better workplace practice

The Government’s Access to Work scheme can also provide a range of support – in some cases to include tasks like carrying and driving, or equipment for disabled people. There is an overview of what is on offer here: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work

When discussing workplace adjustments it is essential to have a mutually signed off note recording what has been agreed  – so that employer and employee both have the same understanding.

Workplacce Passports are voluntary and are perhaps especially useful for those who have a hidden disability or a neurodivergent profile. It builds understanding, and allows planning for if a particular emergency arises.

Additional Resource

Click here to download a workplace passport template that will help you start structuring and implementing this tool within your organisation.

Setting the Tone for Workplace Culture

Another advantage in using a Workplace Passport is that it embeds the idea of good practice into an organisation. It is not something that can be easily ignored by a manager who wants to side-step the process. However, this does mean that when introduced, everyone has to fully understand the principles for a workplace passport and know how to implement them.

What a Workplace passport is Not:

It doesn’t work isolated from a whole Equality, Diversity and Inclusion process.

It shouldn’t be used to establish roles and responsibilities, for performance management or as part of a disciplinary process.

The Passport must be used to support the employee or volunteer to do their job – it should never be subverted into a stick to beat somebody down with.

The passport can be applied flexibly to volunteers and freelance staff – and will eventually trickle down into an attitude and mindset that also benefits your visitors.


Reconsidering Inclusivity in the Face of Covid and Long Covid

“The reality of Long Covid is one of the core factors of inclusion at the moment.” – Sarah Simcoe

Covid-19 has added new considerations to the Workplace Passport and inclusion more generally:

Colleagues or their family members may be shielding.

If someone has Long Covid, what adjustments will they need so that you don’t lose that talent?

Being in a competitive sector, there’s an element of extra stress for employees, wondering if they will be replaced. This doesn’t help the recovery process. A conversation, backed up by a statement on a Workplace Passport will formalise what support is in place.

As Covid-19 moves from pandemic to endemic, you might also need to consider whether a staff member is clinically vulnerable themselves or if they have someone in their household who might be at particular risk.


A Workplace Passport scheme serves as a useful people-development process for leaders and line managers, helping them have ‘uncomfortable’ conversations productively, understanding the value of inclusive culture, raising awareness of bias and recruiting and retaining talent. It also allows organisations to move on to the next step of creating networks around these topics – within and beyond their own walls.

This article was written by Kate Smith of Goosegrass Culture.

Adapted from content originally created and delivered by Becki Morris (Director, Disability Collaborative Network) and Sarah Simcoe, (Creator and Founder, EMBED)

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