Maria Grazia Zedda

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager

Maria Grazia Zedda is an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Manager at High Speed Two Ltd (HS2) railway and founder of e-learning company called Wideaware Ltd. Severely deaf, Maria uses lip-reading, hearing aids and online captioning.

Maria, originally from Italy, moved to the UK aged 19. After completing a vocational course, she worked at the BBC’s Disability Programmes Unit. She left the BBC to achieve a degree in sociology and work with disabled people as employment manager, supporting candidates get jobs in corporate sectors in the UK, US and Italy.

Facing barriers in finding employment as a mother with a disability, Maria decided to retrain as an access auditor, setting up her company when she was nine months pregnant with her second child. Through Wideaware Ltd, she provided training and e-learning on disability equality to thousands of people, including 640 MPs and Lords at Houses of Parliament. Other clients included Network Rail, RDG, OFCOM, Southwark, Fareham and Hounslow Councils, the London Eye and Aquarium, Somerset House and South West Trains. Maria also worked with Serco Caledonian Sleeper, The Shaw Trust, Westfield Stratford City, Office of Disability Issues (ODI), Edinburgh Airport, Ofcom, RDG, First Great Western, Olswang, and The British Library.

Passionate about grassroots inclusion, Maria co-founded a cooperative of disabled women called Sisters of Frida and was Vice-Chair of the Disability Forum at London 2012. She became National Winner of the ‘Ready To Start’ Disabled Entrepreneur Award in 2009, three-times winner of UnLtd’s Millennium Awards for Social Entrepreneurs and won a top 10 London Barclays’ Trading Places Award 2010.

As EDI manager for HS2, Maria’s ensures the programme recruits and retains people inclusively with policies that account for a diverse workforce.

“Always question limitations that others put on you – help yourself and others understand and address these barriers.”