Sharon’s Story- Inclusion in the Work Place

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Innovation for Disability Inclusive Development in Employment

 

This year for International Day for People With Disabilities, we wanted to discuss Inclusiveness in Employment.

My name is Sharon Murphy, I’m a 46-year-old working mum from Dumbarton, Scotland and I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta.  I am currently healing from my 50th fracture and decided to write a blog for the Brittle Bone Society about something that I’m very passionate about and grateful to have benefited from in my own career – Inclusiveness in employment for people with disabilities.

Living and working with OI, I have been met with many challenges over the years and if anything, my condition has given me a motivation to continue to improve myself and help others.  One of these areas of improvement has been in my career in finance and community/volunteer work.

Having completed an honours degree in Accounting, I moved into the world of finance, initially in a hotel group and now in an oil and gas company.  I also help volunteer in the local community and enjoy being involved in lots of projects and hobby groups.  I’m very lucky as I’ve been very well supported by my employers and the organisations I am involved with. A current example of this, my company included more time off on sick leave as currently I am recovering from broken femur which I had to have surgery on two weeks ago.  The message I recieved from my company Subsea 7 was, “rest, heal and we will see you back in work once you are better.” (After a good old health and safety risk assessment of course).  I’m very lucky.  Over the years I’ve been aware that others haven’t been so lucky with employers not so supportive of disabilities either while in employment or during the recruitment process.

However, I’ve noticed the tide is changing… over the last few years there has been an encouraging growth in development of diversity and inclusion innovation especially for people with disabilities, in business and employment which I’m really pleased to see. Companies are now eager to promote awareness and understanding of issues faced by people living with a disability and to ensure staff have appropriate skills.

My own employer set up a Diversity and Inclusion committee a couple of years ago and I volunteered straight away encouraged by the positive future developments I could perhaps help with. With my own disability and passion for helping others I thought I’d be a helpful addition to the forum.

What I’ve witnessed has been so encouraging and deserves to be shared and recognised in the hope other recruiters and employers might be encouraged or pick up some ideas to help improve disability inclusive development in their own recruitment process or departments.

Some positive actions and plans I have noted include:

  • Promoting positive images of people with disabilities participating in our society.
  • Promoting awareness days such as International Day of People with Disabilities.
  • Ensure that staff are trained to meet their disability and equality obligations – my company completed a week-long festival of learning which included awareness of disabilities, such as Osteogenesis Imperfecta, those who are hard of hearing and neurodiversity.
  • Improve the scope of disability training available to staff.
  • Ensure the views of disabled people receive the same consideration as others.
  • Make information available to everyone in a format that meets their needs.
  • Use technology to increase the participation of people with disabilities.
  • Create work placement/job-shadowing opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Encourage more people with disabilities to apply for vacancies.
  • Improve the working environment for staff with disabilities.
  • Monitor equality and diversity improvements across the company.

I’m so proud that my employer is committed to fostering an inclusive and welcoming culture for all, and encouraging and supporting people living with a disability, visible or invisible, to participate in public life.

I hope many more employers follow their example.

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