Dyslexia in the workplace. It's not discussed much, is it? Either because it's generally accepted, or it's not typical acknowledge such a learning difficulty.
I believe it's the latter. Because why would someone bring up that they've got dyslexia... in the workplace? The reality is, there are invisible challenges that people with dyslexia face that can ward off employers from hiring them. And this even goes for the people who don't disclose their dyslexia until after they've made themselves quite the unassailable candidate for a job.
Let's throw in a scenario.
You're hiring for a new entry-level position, let's say in design (a very creative and expansive industry for a person with dyslexia). The ideal candidate walks through the door. Everything about them appears to be the perfect fit for you and your company. So what do they do? They make eye contact, they put across some good ideas that will drive your company forward, and they leave the interview room giving you a feeling that you've found 'The One'. The only thing stopping you from offering the job on the spot is a case of formalities.
There's no doubt that you're offering them the job. When you excitedly ring them to exclaim their start date, you share in their success. Later that evening, while you're just finishing off a few tasks, you get a ping. That ping is an email notification from that same candidate you were so joyous with earlier that day. They express their readiness to start, and thank you for your time. But they also disclose something else, leaving you shocked and maybe a little stunned, "they held themselves so well" you mutter. What is it that changes your perception so quickly?
And I get it, there's so many reasons why that hire won't work out. Here's some of the reasons why you shouldn't hire a dyslexic.
You don't want to make adjustments to suit their needs
There's only 10% of us, so why make allowances?
Evidence of systemic barriers to employment in the UK for people who are neurodivergent (2018, Westminster Achieve Ability Commission (WAC)) makes it clear that a lack of awareness is responsible for the way we treat different brains despite the Equality Act 2010 making people with dyslexia protected from workplace discrimination.
The same study found that neurodiverse candidates were mostly able and skilled, with the recruitment process failing them... and they weren't limited by themselves.
Hampered by job application processes, 43% of the people interviewed felt discouraged from applying. Another 52% claimed to have experienced discrimination during interview or selection processes.
Their worth is taken at face value
52% claimed to have experienced discrimination during the interview or selection processes. Through intention or a lack of awareness, it's caused by the inability to see beyond the surface. And when you factor in the recruitment process, it may be even more difficult for recruiters to see behind the curtain. After all, they're measuring everyone by the same metric.
Your perceptions of people easily change
Recruiting diversity means that you have to make suitable adjustments dependent on what puts that specific person at a disadvantage in your workplace, and there's still a long road ahead in getting here. What's often the barrier is not the support framework itself, but the value someone puts on their own perception. Put bluntly, you can tick a box to say that you're not disadvantaging someone, but that's not to say that it's carving your opinions in stone. Hiring someone is a two-way street - if you're not willing to put your personal bias aside for a worldly approach, you shouldn't hire a dyslexic.
You want people to play by your rules
The narrative that's swept the 20s is provocative for some - COVID-19 and the wave of workers demanding more autonomy on their working environment and schedules has rooted catechism into the rudiment of the 9-5. And with this, we can expect to see all intersections require the same drive. If the reigns are now truly in the hands of the employer, we should mean all of them, not simply the ones who speak the loudest.
As society starts to become more inclusive through a deeper understanding of diversity, you can no longer expect the rulebook to be universally accommodating.
Don't leave it to the people with neurodiversity to mark the course of change for you, because you're still doing yourself no favours. While you may be (even at a stretch) keeping your existing neurodivergent employees happy, are you truly being proactive with enticing the best people? There's more to it than a simple happy statement exclaiming inclusivity - after all, dyslexics know best (we're somewhat known for our ability to see between the lines).
The chances are, there's a long way to go for all of us. But that's okay - it's difficult to anticipate needs and the type of support someone may require.
It can also be hard sometimes to confront your biases. So here's what I urge you to do:
Write down all your biases, no matter how uncomfortable they are.
Write down why you have those biases.
See how irrational they are and throw that piece of paper away (or if you're a digital nomad, delete it).
In all seriousness, people with neurodiversity like dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and ADHD all bring something unique to the table, which shouldn't be discounted.