Under the first topic of our campaign #AccessYourTruePotential, our peer panel want to encourage employers to embrace diversity and inclusion.
Today, we talk about disabilities and hidden talent with peer panel member, Peter Colley.
Peter is passionate about helping employers see the ability in disability and created a hidden talent project with his brother Chris. This project with the Prince’s Trust, saw the Colley brothers educate and train employers on the benefits of employing those furthest from the workplace and how to be inclusive employers.
Peter also raised awareness of hidden talent on his blog – check out his work here.
A question that is often a hot topic with both candidates and employers, is the question around when or if to disclose a condition.
As a subject matter expert, we asked Peter to give us his thoughts on the topic. Here, Peter gives his guidance for hidden talent candidates and guidance for employers looking to be inclusive to all…
“To disclose or not to disclose; that is the question that many young people with hidden conditions have faced when looking over an application form with the section asking if you have a disability.
As someone on the autism spectrum and all too aware of the stigma that can bring (no, autistics are NOT Rain Man disciples), I can understand why candidates may hesitate before stating that they have a condition, especially if they can feel that it is going to hinder their chances of getting a job.”
Advice to employers
Employers should ask candidates if they require any additional support at the start of the process.
“Ask at the application stage so that everyone can go in prepared. Candidates should be given the opportunity to showcase the strengths of their conditions.
I know that a hidden condition at first present as a challenge but in practice, it often brings real benefits. For example, people on the spectrum can have an eidetic memory. They can talk about how this has served them in the past and how it can benefit the role they are applying for.
Another example is people with ADHD who have a great deal of self-confidence and are often unafraid to speak their mind. If properly tailored, this could be a sharp tool for employers. Similarly, people with OCD are well organised, and dyslexics despite their struggles with the written word, are quite analytical when it comes to the visual side.”
Being open to all will make you an attractive business to both candidates and clients.
Will you embrace diversity and inclusion?
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Advice to candidates
“First of all, your condition is a key part of who you are. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s certainly nothing to hideaway. Secondly, let’s say you get a job, and you manage to do so without disclosing your condition. Depending on what you experience, you may struggle with certain aspects of the workplace. A bit of extra support from management is all that’s needed, except if they have not been clued into the nature of your condition, they may make the wrong assumption of why you’re struggling, assuming you’re not right for the job.
You are entitled to certain levels of support in the workplace and employers are obliged to provide said support. If they won’t, that’s their problem, not yours.
If you’re worried about how to disclose to employers, try to play your condition in a positive light. Think of the ways it can benefit your skillset and aid you in workplace tasks. A difficult one, I know, but one trait many employers look for in their staff is thinking outside the box, and your condition will give you the chance to showcase that.
And don’t be afraid of how employers will react. I have yet to disclose to an employer whose mindset will be, “You have autism? Be gone!” Diversity and inclusion are major priorities for companies, and rather than hindering a company brand, your condition, if played right, could enhance it.”
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