Wednesday, 25 January 2012

You slam the door in my face, I'll get in through the Sewers!

I have just spoken to the lady that organised the Seminar at the TUC on Monday to try to build bridges. She understands why I was upset that a seminar titled "A Positive Agenda for Disability and Employment" didn't consider how disabled people could be helped into employment. She conceded that the seminar may have been incorrectly titled!!

"But it was free to get into."
(But not free on the train, or for child care or at the car park!)

I then suggested that perhaps they might consider running another seminar along the lines of the one I felt had been advertised and we had a quick discussion about whose job it might be to organise that.

I am very very lucky. Yes I nearly killed myself whilst at work doing what my management had told me to do, had a life changing event and damaged my head and body, but, I have been able to return to my job, excel in my job (as well as make some mistakes!!), and go from junior management before the accident to senior management of a Blue Chip in Abu Dhabi (Acting CFO). I had to go overseas to progress up the chain because my speech and behaviour is impaired in a way that seems to make me appear to be weird to native English speakers but normal to others.

The Medical Profession still tells me I am unable to work but what do they know? My prognosis post Trauma as relayed to my parents, progressed through: "Your son is likely to die"; "Your son is likely to be in his coma for years"; "Your son is likely to need round the clock care for the rest of his life"; to "Your son will never work again".

My understanding of the Disability Discrimination Act is that the interviewing employer has to make reasonable adjustments to give you the same opportunity at interview as all other candidates. However, as the job gets more senior it becomes less about what you have done and can do and more about does he fit in. I fit in better at work than I do at interview!

I have done some voluntary work in the last 4 years and in the course of helping  a company in the care industry I asked a Social Worker, who had just had a meeting with me, how I came across. The response was very positive. The only thing was, there was just something about the way I spoke and the way I looked while thinking of what to say. However, he couldn't put his finger on it but there was something there.

As mentioned my speech is impaired and also my memory recall bottom 5% of the population (as measured by the tests they use), so I have done amazingly well to get where I have.

However, at interview you are selling yourself and being different is hardly ever good.

How can you legislate against that?

Reasonable adjustments I hear you say!

Because I struggle with looking normal whilst recalling eg. answers to competency based interview questions, I asked LOCOG if they would let me have the competency based questions I was to be asked in advance, to allow me to select the best example of what I could do.


Apparently that would disadvantage all of the other candidates with no memory problem. Whilst not on the job description it appeared that a memory that functioned without having to use memory aids and not talk about personal details to strangers in a formal setting was a job requirement. (After negotiation with their Occupational Health Dept. they agreed to give me sight of the interview questions 10 minutes before the interview!). Suffice it to say, I didn't get a second interview. I didn't quite get one of the questions right - I was asked to give an example of a time when I'd had to deliver bad news.They were looking for an answer of when I had to tell a manager he couldn't buy what he wanted to (and I've done that plenty of times) including to my wife!!)). However, my mind went to.....
having to tell a CEO of a company that amongst other concerns I couldn't interpret accounting standards in such a way that would allow him to book a further $20m of profit and was resigning. (He went ahead and booked it that year and reversed it out the following year!). Integrity is obviously not highly valued at LOCOG as the feedback to my interview focused on this.

I was just hoping that the TUC might give me an idea of what else I could do to get a job. Silly me!

I am about to get too old to be an accountant now (mid 40's) and am resigned to a life of Blogging! (you don't have to read this if you don't want to!). However, what I have encountered is wrong and disabled people should be helped, supported and nurtured. All of us are capable and some want to use that in the workplace. The government through the NHS kept me alive. Do I now just get dumped? Do they have no responsibility to me or am I just Benefit Scrounging Scum (with apologies to Sue Marsh for using her Trademark!!).

As well as looking after my family perhaps my purpose in life is to fix this. People talk of glass ceilings for: women; ethnic minorities; but there is also a glass doorstep which keeps disabled people that want to work outside, looking in, especially if they have a mental/ cognitive disability. My balance is too bad to stack shelves up ladders, my behavioural difficulties would lead to me being seen as confrontational to yobs at McDonalds, I would get really bored and frustrated in a call centre which can lead to outbursts in head injured survivors.

Does anybody out there have any suggestions about positive action that I could take?

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