So my name is Nana and I’m sharing my experience of being discriminated on within the work environment. So basically, I was working for an organisation that hadn’t put reasonable adjustments in place for me to actually understand my role as effectively as I should have as an employee. The management hierarchy did not take into account that I needed a bit more support than my fellow colleagues who already knew the role. Most of the training I was given wasn’t sufficient enough for me to understand the role. What I did do to ensure that I was a team player was I raised concerns with my line manager to ascertain how best to move forward in terms of understanding my role within the organisation.
In terms of reasonable adjustments, as I said before, this wasn’t really a focus point for the organisation and how it left me; it left me very frustrated because I felt a lot of my team members felt that they were carrying me in terms of workload. It was very frustrating, especially when you’re trying to speak to a line manager, and he or she is not really listening to your needs as an employee but rather, you know, overshadowing the business needs over the employee who has to do what the business wants them to do. It went through a grievance process because it went on for about six months, you know, you can imagine, I was frustrated. I started to get depressed, I started to get anxious. It wasn’t a healthy environment. It ended up with me being on anti-depressants for six months. It really demoralised me and people could see in my personal life that I wasn’t happy.
Did the issue get resolved? It didn’t, and that was one of the unfortunate things that the incident had been going on for about two years, or a year and a half and nobody had thought of resolving it. The grievance process didn’t really work in favour of how I felt as an individual, it was rather, “The management is doing their job correctly, what more do you want?” These are the little, little things that people with disability face and this makes people with disabilities walk out of employment. When you look at the statistics of people with disabilities who walk out of employment for the minor things, you know, for things as so little as misunderstanding, it’s a joke. In my experience, unfortunately I had to leave the position because it got to a point where I was so depressed and so anxious, lack of confidence within myself, that I ended up having to speak up and speak out about my experience and this led to me being put in a position where I no longer was employed.
Lessons I want employers to learn: When an employee comes to you and speaks to you about an issue that they have, don’t just shrug it under the carpet and focus on what the business wants. Always remember that for your company to flourish and blossom you need the help of employees. If you deem yourself as inclusive, an equal opportunity organisation, a disability confident, aware organisation; work hand in hand, find solutions rather than problems for your people with disabilities to enable your staff with disabilities feel comfortable, confident and, you know, reduce sickness absence, because most of the time it’s for the minute things and it can be so little as communication between a manager and an employee. Individuals have to take ownership of this, it’s not just from an employee. As a manager you are an individual first and then you are an employee after.
So you really need to consider the feelings of people that you’ve taken on who have disabilities because having a job or gaining employment as a disabled person is very, very difficult within itself. The self-doubt of a person with a disability, the exclusion of a person with a person with a disability and the interpretation of society for someone who has a disability who is trying to gain employment, the pressures of, “I’ve got a disability, am I capable of doing this role? Is this role for me? Is the employer going to see me for who I am and the skills I ascertain, rather than is this employer going to judge me?” So that’s my experience and views on employment and discrimination within employment.