Thanks for your engagement in our Power of Diversity session.
These are the vignettes we’re working with today:
Alex works in the lab. She experiences endometriosis, heavy periods, a respiratory condition and has been diagnosed with mental health issues. She has also been diagnosed with autism but does not consider that diagnosis a disability. She occasionally uses a wheelchair. Before starting work at her employer, Alex did not consider herself disabled in general. She was active and fit at university where she did very well in both undergraduate and post graduate studies. However, since leaving university and taking up her role at the organisation she has been subject to diagnostic tests regarding several symptoms.
Alex has been using her annual leave when possible to attend these tests. She often arrives at work later than her colleagues but stays later too – though some of her colleagues question her later arrivals. To enter the workplace, she passes through an area where people congregate to smoke causing her respiratory discomfort. The lift in her workplace is regularly out of service. She works in an open lab without a set workspace, which sometimes makes her feel uncomfortable as she likes to be able to see who is coming and going, which she understands to be related to her mental health and neurodiversity. The team that Alex is part of often go to the local pub for socials that are in a city centre and not accessible.
Alex is a superb member of the scientific team and is known for noticing small errors and attending to them before there is a quality issue, saving the company money and time. However, her manager worries that she will need to take further time off and only considers the cost implications of her potential absence and the concerns of her colleagues. Her line manager is embarrassed to talk about Alex’s gynaecological health concerns and as a result she feels belittled and ignored.
Now go to Sli.do to share your thoughts:
- What are the workplace barriers which are raised by the vignettes?
Michael is an office manager/team leader. In his role he has been responsible for the interviewing and recruiting of over 50 staff. He isn’t aware of any of those applicants/appointees being disabled. He only has examples of employees who acquired an impairment during their employment.
One of his office staff became suddenly unwell. The illness resulted in an acquired brain injury. After receiving treatment the team member returned to work. Michael felt that they did not return to their previous levels of productivity and capability.
He referred the staff member to an occupational health professional who recommended some small adjustments were made to the employee’s working environment. Michael continued to access occupational health support, which he described as ‘reasonable’ and ‘professional’. He explained how occupational health professionals advised that the staff member was expected to recover further, but that this recovery could be quite lengthy, and may need periods of absence.
The employee was relatively new to the organisation, in their first year of employment. Michael was not sure what to do and had concerns about managing a disabled employee. He had an ‘informal’ chat with the employee to talk about their options. He considered the discussion realistic and honest. Because of the discussion, the employee found work elsewhere. Michael considered this to have been a ‘win-win’ outcome, but late found out from a colleague that the employee expressed feelings of being pushed out and had not wanted to leave the company.
Back to Sli.do again to share your thoughts
- How do we move from individual ‘reasonable’ adjustments to creating environments that value and enable disabled people?
For more about the DISC project, visit our site: www.disc.hw.ac.uk