Is HR “failing” dyslexic employees?

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Around 10 per cent of the population is estimated to have dyslexia but archaic attitudes within educational institutes and corporate organisations may be holding them back – that’s the message from one advocate who’s pushing for change.

“I’ve spoken to many local schools, universities and businesses, and it’s clear to me that perceptions and attitudes towards dyslexia are outdated,” says Debra Charles, CEO of software firm Novacroft.

Charles – who is diagnosed with the disability – says many people perceive dyslexia as a hindrance but insists it can actually provide a unique point of view to those who have it.

“I honestly believe that my success is because of, not despite, dyslexia,” she said in an interview with HR Grapevine. “That’s why I’m passionate about celebrating and valuing differences, changing perceptions of ‘normal’ and encouraging schools and organisations to collaborate to embrace the ‘different’ skills of young people with special educational needs and disabilities.”

Now, the UK-based executive is pushing employers to form partnerships with educators in a bid to better support students with dyslexia and ensure a valuable talent pipeline for the future.

“I’d like to see business owners and entrepreneurs forge better links with students with dyslexia by going into schools and mentoring them, to show them what they can achieve,” she told the news outlet.

“Schools need to nurture the different skill sets of these young people and adopt less traditional learning patterns to identify their special talents,” she continued. “We mustn’t pigeonhole pupils based on ‘traditional’ perceptions of their ability – there is always a hunger beneath that we need to help release.”

According to Charles, her message is a timely one as employers continue to fight against a critical talent shortage.

“Unearthing the hidden talents of dyslexic pupils can also contribute to closing the skills gap – most notably in science, technology and engineering (STEM) careers,” she insisted. “There are far too few pupils taking up the subjects that are required to pursue careers in STEM.

“It’s vital that we work together to overturn the perception of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, embrace our differences and unlock the younger generation’s hidden talents,”

she added. “The change needs to come from the education system and businesses alike.”
 
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