Dyslexia is often referenced as the “hidden disability.” There are multiple variations of dyslexia. In fact, there are many subtypes of dyslexia. Many experts have claimed that most people with dyslexia may also have other conditions as well.
According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a neurologically based condition caused by a different wiring in the brain. People with dyslexia are not less intelligent and some say the way individuals with dyslexia think can be a great support in achieving success.
While it is excellent to see so many more companies taking an interest in hiring dyslexic employees, there are still issues for dyslexic professionals like myself to be seen or accommodated in the workplace. Not every coworker or manager will understand my disability, failing to know how to best support my dyslexic gifts.
Building a diverse and inclusive culture fosters awareness for not just my hidden disability, but for all coworkers that have seen or unseen disabilities. A necessary step for most companies, because it also forges a progressive path forward empowering all coworkers and provides an excellent opportunity to educate employees, including senior leadership.
Companies have found success in building Employee Resource Groups. A Disability ERG can help to educate the entire organization and dispel any misconceptions or myths around the abilities of their disabled coworkers. As well as bring forth positive organizational changes that accommodate a more diverse work environment for everyone.
For most professionals like myself, it is still hard to know when you can safely discuss your disability in the workplace without judgment or backlash of various levels. Having regular BRG (Business Resource Group) events is an excellent way to provide a supportive, psychologically safe environment for professionals like myself and allies to network. Research from McKinsey finds that diverse workforces outperform less diverse organizations by 35%.
In 2015, while working for a well-known, global technology-reseller, I helped co-found a Business Resource Group called ABLE. The level of interest to join this BRG in that organization saw higher results than any other BRG that was started in the history of that company. The opportunity to start a BRG that supports and empowers so many coworkers was an honor, and the impact that it still has today is inspiring still.
Most companies have an internal process for BRG’s. If you are interested in starting a BRG, I would recommend reaching out to your Chief People Officer or DEI Leader to ask what the policies are and if there would be an opportunity to start one.