Telling someone you have a disability in a personal context isn’t easy. So, can you imagine how hard it is having to tell your employer? Especially if that disability isn’t always clearly visible and can be a combination of both physical and mental impairments. Some days can be better than others, and other days can be a struggle!
What I am trying to say is, dealing with a disability myself makes me very aware of the fact that we are still far from equality. By that I mean understanding - an acceptance that people like myself can give 100% and more, but we just have different ways in which we require support within our workplace.
It will always be difficult to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, but we should consider that there is a need to be fully inclusive within the workplace to reflect the society we live in. Having a disability isn’t something I wake up with in the morning and think of straight away, it is something that now and again, means I require a different way of learning and of managing projects to others.
This week I came across a great article on an organization called #valuable whose aim is to promote awareness of disability. Alongside this, #valuable have released a video, which is a light-hearted illustration, showing some of difficulties and awareness issues surrounding disability within the workplace in general and among leaders. I would encourage anyone to have a watch, I recently posted this on our Facebook page, which you can view here - https://www.facebook.com/GatedTalent/.
Caroline Casey, the leader behind #valuable is keen to make clear that we all need to be inclusive of disability, and that really starts with speaking about it more. Alongside this video, are some other videos featuring top leaders such as Richard Branson, explaining why disability is an asset to any business’s advancement. A lot of the time, I hear about the issue of gender inequality, and as a woman with children, I understand the challenges that come with raising a family and trying to advance my career. But what I don’t hear enough about is supporting disability, and I am pleased that someone like Caroline has the courage to speak out. When I read that only 7% of our leaders globally identify themselves as having a disability this concerns me... why? I revert to the start of my article: without change people like me feel less comfortable speaking about it. I don’t want ‘special treatment’ but an understanding, and that starts with breaking down the barriers and talking openly about how we can work inclusively to reflect the society we live in. And just for the record, I am pleased to say my current employer has always supported my disability. Within leadership, however, this article piece by Praseeda Nair, shows we still have a long way to go which is why we should start acting today.
15% of the world’s population lives with a disability, but only 7% of business leaders identify as disabled. Of that small pool, one in five C-suite leaders with a disability don’t feel comfortable admitting their disability to colleagues.