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Chartered accountant named among UK’s most influential disabled people

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 03 Nov 2021

ICAEW member Natalie Hiller has been listed as one of the most influential disabled people in the UK. Read about the advocacy work that earned her a spot on the Disability Power 100 list.

One fifth of the UK’s population has a disability or impairment. However, there is little recognition of the many successful and influential disabled people across Britain. The Disability Power 100, founded by the Shaw Trust, aims to close this gap. The list is an annual publication that highlights and champions the work of the top 100 disabled people, as nominated by the public.

Among those recognised in this year’s publication was Natalie Hiller, ICAEW Chartered Accountant and Co-Chair of PwC’s Disability Awareness Network. Over the years, the Disability Power 100 has recognised the likes of Stephen Hawking, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Stephen Fry, and ICAEW is extremely proud that Natalie is among such talent.

Natalie became disabled in 2012, when at university. Her disabilities visibly affect her walking and the use of her hands, which has meant she has had direct experience of the negative stigma around disability. Speaking of her personal experience, Natalie said: “There can be a misconception that disabled people are not very intelligent or successful. This can affect attitudes and behaviour towards disabled people, and their employment opportunities”.

Natalie felt determined to change these perceptions and qualified as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant and is now a Deals Senior Associate at PwC. 

Equal potential to succeed 

When Natalie first became disabled, she was told by a high-achieving disabled person that they have the potential to achieve just as much (if not more) than everyone else, they just have to do things in a different way. Natalie has adopted this positive mindset throughout her career and with this has paved the way for others. 

Since March 2019, Natalie has demonstrated her passion for challenging perceptions and supporting others by volunteering as National Co-Chair of PwC’s Disability Awareness Network (DAWN). Since then, she has been instrumental in the network’s growth and has set up the network’s first regional subgroup, providing support to colleagues in the north of England. The launch was a great success and two years later DAWN has five local subgroups as well as a nationwide buddying scheme. 

Natalie’s advocacy work extended to other areas of her organisation. She identified a lack of disability representation in PwC’s internal design assets and worked to develop a set of illustrations featuring disabled people at work. These launched in 2020 and have since been incorporated into PwC’s branding. During the same year, she created a campaign to profile disabled colleagues and celebrate their achievements at PwC. Natalie’s own story was featured on corporate social media, attracting significant interest. 

Natalie’s influence also had an impact internationally as she has mentored disability network chairs overseas. Further, she encourages future generations of disabled people into accountancy by speaking at PwC events, delivering thought-provoking talks on disability at student recruitment events and taking part in career blogs related to disability. 

Through her multiple achievements, Natalie is changing the perception of disabled people and raising awareness of the importance of diversity within the accountancy profession.

Celebrating diversity

Now in its sixth year, the Disability Power 100 aims to change the public perception of disability by recognising strong, successful, influential people who are leaders in their field. It aims to amplify the successes of the finalists, whilst also encouraging a new generation of talented leaders to achieve their full potential, regardless of disability or impairment. 

Speaking about her recognition, Natalie commented: “I am truly honoured to be recognised on the Disability Power 100 and would like to thank everyone who has supported me. I hope that my work will inspire more disabled people to join the accountancy profession”.

Looking to the future, Shaw Trust continues to encourage organisations to reflect on opportunities available for disabled people. To see the full list of this year’s 100 influencers and other category winners, visit The Disability Power 100 website.

For more information on ICAEW’s work to improve diversity and representation within the profession, visit the Diversity and Inclusion Hub.

When referring to disability, it is often advised to use people-first language such as ‘person/people with disabilities’. Natalie’s preference is to use ‘disabled person/people’, which is why this was used throughout the article. For additional guidance on inclusive language on disabilities, please visit Inclusive language: words to use and avoid when writing about disability.

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