John McDonald holding an eagle ('Ernie') cuddly toy

John McDonald of Eagles Wings Consultancy tells us how he’s using his professional and personal experience to help businesses to overcome obstacles and embrace a more diverse and inclusive workforce, and why simply having a policy may not be enough.

How do you identify as disabled, and what does it mean to you?

Following a brain injury, I require some assistance and strategies to manage my associated symptoms. With these measures in place, I can maintain my productivity as a valuable contributor to the workforce. By acknowledging my disability, I can access the necessary support however, my disability does not define my identity; rather, it is an aspect of who I am and an integral part of my overall self.

Tell us a little about your business.

Eagles Wings Consultancy was founded in 2021. With our expertise in disability awareness, confidence, and compliance, we are helping businesses create a diverse and inclusive workforce. Our focus is on improving communication between companies, organisations, and those affected by disabilities, particularly those with neurological conditions or invisible disabilities.

By working with Eagles Wings Consultancy, companies and organisations gain access to a wealth of knowledge and experience, enabling them to overcome any obstacles in their pursuit of a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

We believe in fostering a culture of respect, diversity, and inclusion, recognising that our differences make us stronger. We are committed to sustainability, mindful of our impact on the environment and our responsibility to future generations.

We view the world from a unique perspective, soaring above it all! At our core, we believe in excellence, innovation, and collaboration. We value integrity, transparency, and honesty in all our interactions, both with our customers and with each other.

Why did you start the business? Share your story so far.

I am a Disability Consultant/Specialist with over 20 years’ experience working within the healthcare sector.

In 2016, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain). I had treatments for both of these conditions; however, some aspects of the brain surgery did not go to plan and I have been left with some deficits. My deficits are mainly fatigue and balance issues but, with my coping strategies in place, I can lead a meaningful professional and personal life.

I have always been keen to improve disability inclusion. I started Eagles Wings Consultancy to bridge gaps and help foster better communication between companies and organisations with those who have neurological conditions, invisible conditions, or disabilities.

My research has shown that, although companies often have policies and procedures in place, improvements could usually be made. For example, in implementing adaptations. Not all adaptations need to be physical changes, but some could be of a more supportive nature.

John McDonald wearing and Eagles Wings Consultancy t-shirt with the caption, 'Turning disabled into enabled is more than a statement, it's a mindset that produces positive outcomes.'

What do you see as the main challenges facing your business and its continued operation or growth?

The main challenge our business, and its ongoing expansion, faces is awareness. There is still work to be around raising disability awareness and fostering a more inclusive workforce.

Some employers and organisations fail to recognise the advantages that they and their company would gain from disability awareness coaching and training. Embracing diversity is so much more than merely having a disability policy. However, we do not let this deter from what we are hoping to see in the future, and will continue to work hard to face these changes.

What can we do to encourage more disabled entrepreneurs to start businesses – what is holding them back and what can we all do to help change that?

More disabled entrepreneurs could be encouraged by:

  • Raising awareness and challenging stereotypes
  • More mentorship and networking opportunities
  • Collaborations with disability organisations

Individuals with disabilities sometimes encounter obstacles that discourage them from venturing into entrepreneurship. By offering guidance, assistance, and advice, we can empower a greater number of people to embrace this opportunity.

What do you consider your greatest achievement or the proudest moment in your life so far?

When I was working on a Neurosurgical HDU (High Dependency Unit), I worked alongside the ward matron. I identified that the Health Care Assistants (HCAs) were being underused in their role. Together, we developed a training programme to enhance the role of the HCAs. It was found that using the new training programme made the HCAs more effective and better equipped to support the needs of the HDU.

For many reasons, both professionally and personally, I feel this is both one of my greatest achievements and my proudest moments.

If there was one thing you could change about peoples’ perception of disability, what would it be and why?

If I could change perceptions around disability, it would be to help others understand that being disabled does not mean being unable.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired when I see people with a disability striving to be the best version of themselves and overcoming potential barriers in life.