Dyslexia & the Workplace
If I had written about this topic a few years ago my opening gambit might have been “My family has been touched by dyslexia”, but today I am proud to say that my family has been blessed with dyslexia; both of my children are dyslexic, successful and confident! My family has also been privileged to have received the very best educational support from a truly inspirational learning support team at a truly inspirational school (Thank you Ms McGhee & Reed’s School!), but I am acutely aware that this level of support is not available for all and how fortunate my children are. Perhaps if Dyslexia was better understood - and the contribution to the world that dyslexics have made and continue to make - and more widely recognised, there would be better acceptance and more funding would be made available. Right now, our education and academic system is not designed for dyslexic thinking and dyslexia is still viewed as a disadvantage with so many bright stars of the future unlikely to understand their full potential, whatever that might be.
I recently became aware of an awesome charity, Made by Dyslexia, which has set out its stall to educate the world and sponsor dyslexia globally. Unsurprisingly, Walker Dendle has taken the Made By Dyslexia pledge, but that started me thinking about the workplace at large. Once we have pushed our education system to support and encourage dyslexic students, how will this translate into the world of work? I am not just referring to how accessible a selection process is, or ticking the diversity box, (although I am disappointed to say that my son has recently had a very unsatisfactory experience with a global consultancy firm), but rather how can we educate employers to really identify and realise the unique dynamic that dyslexia can bring to the workforce.
Dyslexic minds process information differently. Their divergent, lateral thinking has created some of the world's greatest inventions, brands and art. Just google and you will stumble across brilliant minds and innovators like Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers & Henry Ford. Where would the world be today without the theory of relativity, electricity, cars, phones and the ability to fly on our summer hols?! But the impressive register doesn’t end here - Richard Branson, Lewis Hamilton, Jamie Oliver, Keira Knightley & Orlando Bloom to name a few more; the list really is a “Who’s Who”!
Enlightened employers should be researching dyslexia if they are to truly appreciate the exceptional benefits that this special mindset can bring to the party and to capitalise on the valuable contribution this neurodiversity can make – whatever the line of business, whatever the function.
The Value of Dyslexia, a report in collaboration with EY, highlights key facts and research into dyslexia and its unique thinking skills. Well worth a read, this report outlines the cognitive flexibility, creativity, visualisation and complex problem-solving abilities dyslexic people have and why dyslexia’s role is crucial for our future.
The world of work is changing, core work-related skills are shifting at a pace and skills gaps are deepening – will your business be open minded and trailblazing enough to tap into this fabulous pool of talent? I hope so!