An Award-Winning Success Story
I recently heard Paralympian Georgie Bullen talk at an event celebrating International Women’s Day.
Wow, what a woman. Georgie is one of five people in the UK with a rare form of macular degeneration, meaning that she has just 12 degrees of vision. When Georgie was told that she wasn’t going to be able to continue her A levels due to the dangerous straining of her eyes (which could have lead to complete blindness) she was devastated. Her dreams of going to University were shattered. Having been at a mainstream school all her life, for the first time Georgie felt disabled. Entering the world of work, she found that she couldn’t get a job as employers didn’t know how to adapt the role (or the workplace) to her needs.
Not surprising when you learn that 73% of blind and partially sighted people in the UK are unemployed.
Eventually Georgie picked herself up and thought – perhaps I’m focusing on the wrong thing? Why do employers find it so hard to employ blind or partially sighted people The misconceptions around blindness mean that employers often think you are blind, not realising that there is a spectrum. Why should everyone be labeled and assumptions made?
At that moment, Georgie decided to start her own business, introducing her sport (Goalball) into the workplace as a team building experience. With the support of Prince’s Trust, Georgie now uses her disability to enable others.
Turning Adversity into Opportunity
Instead of giving up, Georgie found a way to turn adversity into opportunity. As the saying goes, there’s always a window open when a door shuts!
There are over 2 million people living in the UK with sight loss – which is a lot of talent currently being overlooked or turned away by employers. And 7 million people of working age are disabled or have a health condition.
As a candidate with a disability, you are able to request that employers make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the role (such as changing working hours or providing equipment) to ensure that you’re able to do your job. The costs of which are usually low!
Candidates need to help educate employers so that we can overcome the barriers to employment that disabled people so often face. Employers shouldn’t turn away candidates just because they are different. Awareness is key – there are many organisations working in the UK to help overcome disability bias within the workplace – the world of recruitment just needs to embrace them.
Inspired by Georgie Bullen’s story?