Sir James Wates CBE & Will Bayley MBE in conversation | Wates

The Wates Group Chairman, Sir James Wates CBE, and table tennis champ Will Bayley MBE, have joined forces to discuss the importance of inclusivity and diversity in sport, and in business.

The exclusive interview saw the Wates Group Chairman, Sir James Wates CBE, and Paralympic gold medalist, Will Bayley MBE discuss their career paths, sharing their experiences of overcoming challenges and their determination to achieve their personal ambitions. 

Giving a rare insight into their respective professional journeys, the interview explored the impact of the lockdown on sport and Will’s personal experience over the past 12 months while he recuperated from an injury sustained during his time on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

The interview also saw Sir James share his personal challenges and his pride at achieving his ambition to become a construction site manager at the early age of 26, while overcoming institutional prejudice about whether someone without traditional experience ‘on the tools’ could manage the job. 

Will Bayley commented:  

As a child I underwent a lot of surgery and then at the age of seven was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and while this experience was hard for me and my family, it has made me who I am today. I am lucky to be alive and that has driven my determination at every step of my career – that and the support from my family.” 

Wates, the leading family-owned construction, property services and residential development group, has sponsored Will since 2018, a partnership that has seen the business support the table tennis player on his journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. 

The collaborative partnership has seen Will play a key role in shaping Wates’ ‘Disability Confidence’ approach, having joined the business’ Disability Working Group to help make Wates a more accessible and inclusive employer.  

Sir James Wates said:  

We have been on an incredible journey with Will, supporting him since 2018. It’s a great partnership. Will has made valuable contributions to our ongoing drive to be a business that is welcoming to all.

As an industry we must be embracing of the whole diversity spectrum; if you aren’t diverse, you are essentially not accessing the widest pool of available talent. There is no doubt that if you’re bringing different people into the business, they bring different ways of thinking, all of which challenges the way you do things as a business, which in my view can only make it better.

Will is not a man defined by his disability and his determination to succeed is a true inspiration. He has enriched our business through his involvement in our mission to be an inclusive and diverse company and this will undoubtedly bring wider benefit to the built environment as a whole. For this we are very grateful.”

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