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This month’s question:
I am interviewing at the moment and I am keen to work for a company that fits with my values and approach to Learning & Development [I am an L&D Mgr by trade]. Due to bad experiences in the past when disclosing my Dyslexia [Which is Mild and Phonological] I have opted to disclose this at second stage interviews [highlighting how it enhances my abilities in the role] rather than day one and risk the danger of being removed in the first 90days as they don’t understand it and think I lied about my achievements. Am I shooting myself in the foot? Is there a better way?? – Getting frustrated with not quite making it at final stages [this has happened 4 times in the past few months]
Answer 1: Janette Beetham, Workplace Dyslexia Specialist
As I think many of my colleagues involved in dyslexia support would agree, the ‘ideal’ would be for you to feel comfortable and able to disclose at the application stage (and you might even supply the recruiting organisation with a letter from Access to Work to evidence your eligibility for support if this were the case). However, as there is still a lack of awareness and understanding about dyslexia, especially in the workplace, regrettably negative prejudice abounds thus making this a potentially risky option.
With regard to disclosing at second stage interviews I would say the situation is very similar in that we never know who is going to be on the panel and what they know about dyslexia.
Therefore I would say whether or not to disclose has to be a personal choice based on a variety of ‘variables’ including:
- The organisation’s ‘track record’ in relation to dyslexia and neuro-diverse conditions.
- Whether the organization has an Equality & Diversity Unit/Manager. (This is usually a good sign).
- What you know about your dyslexia challenges and how these might impact on your performance in this particular role.
Based on your research this should give you some confidence in the organisation’s ‘ethos’ and if you are successful in your application disclosure in your first few weeks of employment will give them the opportunity to do the right thing.
The question you pose is a tricky one which countless dyslexic individuals will be struggling with and until dyslexia and neuro-diversity is more widely embraced and supported it will continue to require a personal ‘judgement call’. However, I will finish by saying….if you are successful in gaining employment with an organization with whom on disclosure you find they want to ‘remove you’ within the first 90 days …..is this really the type of organization you would want to work for anyway?
Answer 2: Pamela Uddin, Alexia Solutions
Listening to your problem brings me back to my interviewing stages. I can completely understand the frustration that you are going through and unfortunately there is no correct way of disclosing this information. To make matters complicated, choosing a time to disclose you are dyslexic is different depending on the interviewers/companies you are interviewing with. What I have learned from my experience and the advice that I would give is to try and only disclose this information to someone who sits in HR within the company (this generally tends to be your first interview). I would tend to disclose it in a positive (which I am sure you are doing) but try to build the conversation so it sits in nicely – For example – I am very proud of everything I have achieved to date, degree, masters, first class hons and I achieved all this with having dyslexia. I am very proud to say I am dyslexic as it allows me to problem solve, build strategies and team build in a more diverse and creative way.
It is unfortunate that we have to be sensitive as to when and with whom we disclose this information, however being blunt the fact is that most people in business are uneducated about learning differences and can only think of negatives when they are faced with it.
After appearing on the 2014 UK BBC Apprentice with Sir Alan Sugar, Dyslexic Entrepreneur Pamela Uddin decided to take the leap and start Alexia Solutions; an organisation helping people with learning differences reach their full potential.
Answer 3: Sean Douglas, The Codpast
So I’m gonna be a bit controversial here. I would say if you feel disclosure is a barrier to you getting through the interview process then, don’t. It is not classed as a disability, so there’s no (legal) requirement to do so.
If you know you can excel in this position, then no company will have an issue with it when you come out of the closet at a later stage (18 months after hiring or so). Yes, it is a little white lie, but as Dyslexics we are constantly forced to find creative ways to level the playing field. Unless they have dealt with it before, or they know someone who has it , many managers/companies do not understand it, do not want to understand it, and will not see it as a benefit to any role, if it has not written in the job description. Harsh but at the moment very true in many industries/organisations.
Once you are a bit further up the chain, no need to disguise this, but for now, the wisest move is to keep it close to your heart.
Sean Douglas is the founder and ‘Chief Dyslexic’ at The Codpast
The Codpast is a multimedia production from www.extraordinaire.tv