Liz Johnson

Paralympian and founder of The Ability People

Liz Johnson is gold-medal winning Paralympic swimmer and the Managing Director and Co-Founder of The Ability People; the UK’s first disability-led employment consultancy.

Liz has enjoyed a professional swimming career spanning 20 years. Liz competed in the Women’s SB6 100m breaststroke in three Paralympic Games, taking home medals in all of them – including Gold at Beijing 2008. At the London 2012 Paralympics she was selected to take the Paralympic Oath. She is also a gold medallist at the IPC World Championships three times over and has been a World and European champion on multiple occasions.

As Liz considered her career following retirement from professional sport, she was struck that the UK disability employment gap is 30%. To tackle this she set up recruitment firm The Ability People (TAP). This for-profit social enterprise is staffed exclusively by disabled people. The team work with corporates and businesses to transform hiring practices and make them authentically inclusive, helping skilled disabled people find the right careers. Liz knows how resourceful and resilient disabled people are and understands the value they can bring to any business.

Liz created a team of people who have built careers defying expectations and can help others to do the same. Liz’s work at TAP has been included on the prestigious BBC 100 Women list 2018. TAP has won contracts from huge organisations including Diageo, The AA, Heathrow Airport, and HSBC where they have worked to re-shape internal hiring practices, educated teams on disability, and secured roles for talented disabled candidates.

Liz uses her international platform to create change in business, media, and disability sport. She continues to work as a media commentator on sports and disability, including at the Sydney Invictus Games. She also mentors other athletes.

“I’m delighted to have been included in the Shaw Trust Power List 2019. It’s an honour to be named alongside such inspiring individuals. Collectively, we represent the diversity of talent that disabled people bring to the table. In my career, I’ve faced challenges and had to fight against other people’s fixed ideas of who I am and what I can achieve. But I’ve also been immensely privileged in having a platform from which I can champion the need for authentic inclusion in our society. I hope this list prompts everyone, especially employers, to rethink their attitudes towards disabilities and redress any prejudices about what disabled people are capable of.”