Imagine the world without cars, lightbulbs, or the telephone.
It’s pretty hard to do! Some of the world’s greatest innovators, who are behind everyday items we know and love, were dyslexic. An estimated six million British people are living and working with dyslexia and it comes with everyday challenges*.
“My dyslexia challenges my auditory processing. I find noisy environments difficult, have problems with taking notes in meetings as my brain struggles to hold information long enough for me to process it and get it onto paper. In formal education this was very problematic. I felt stupid, slow and struggled with low self-esteem. I knew I was different to others but had no idea why. I don’t struggle to spell or to read, which is often the typical link people make when dyslexia is mentioned. This meant I had a diagnosis later in my life, which impacted my education.
I also struggle with some communication, as I won’t see or hear sub text in conversations. I’m likely to process information literally which has resulted in very funny outcomes at times! I struggle with small talk and will often mirror those around me to mask my challenges. I’m terrible at asking people “how’s your day going?”, as my brain will assume if you have information that I need, you’ll just tell me. These are some examples where my understanding or processing, and the way my brain is wired, differ from neurotypical colleagues – who have brains that function in a similar way to most of their peers.”
Living with dyslexia comes with advantages as well as challenges
“I can see the bigger picture, which means I can be innovative with ideas, and I don’t shy away from problems that others think can’t be solved. I can see potential in scenarios and potential outcomes that neurotypical people don’t.”
Working with dyslexia
At NatWest Group, our internal ‘Enable employee-led network’ is one of eight employee led networks, made up of Executive Committee members and volunteer colleagues. Every colleague has the opportunity to join and play a key role in delivering, raising awareness of, and influencing our bank-wide inclusion strategy.
Kate is part of our Enable network, which provides our colleagues with opportunities to connect with other neurodivergent colleagues to better understand themselves, dyslexia and other neurodiversity challenges. Kate spoke of how the network also offers support, resources, and a safe space for parents of neurodivergent children so that their experiences can be more positive.
“Although the bank is more open and more inclusive than when I started my career, working can sometimes be challenging especially when information isn’t clear or forthcoming. However, my current role follows methodology, and is procedural, which leans into my strengths. And I make sure to follow routines to help me cope too - routines at work, at home and even on holiday, really help. My team have taken the time to get to know my differences, and maximise on my strengths, making it better for everyone and creating an inclusive working environment.”
One effective way for Kate to highlight and remove stigma towards neurodiversity was when she started using this disclaimer footer in her emails…
“I am dyslexic, apologies if my emails are not as clear as they should be. My dyslexia allows me to think differently, giving me natural abilities to form alternative views and solve problems creatively. Expect big ideas and small typos.”
Championing our colleagues and customers with disabilities
We’re passionate about understanding what our customers and colleagues with disabilities need to help them thrive. Doing so helps us to create equal opportunities for everyone.
Whether that’s celebrating having accessibility features in all key processes, products, services and behaviours and being one of the founding signatories to The Valuable 500, a global movement which strives to place disability inclusion at the heart of business strategy with consistent attention at board level.