Why diverse abilities matter

People living with disabilities are the world’s largest minority group, it’s estimated that there are 1.3 billon people with disabilities worldwide. And often they are disabled by social barriers in modern society – physical accessibility, people’s attitudes – and not by their differences. Through educating ourselves of the different needs and working preferences of people, we can create an environment that is accessible to all and empowering for everyone.

 

Emma Holden, Global Head of Human Resources, UK:

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“I experienced an emotional rollercoaster when my two sons were diagnosed as deaf at six and three years old, and how, with time, I know they are exactly as they are meant to be.

“What we thought was repeated glue ear and a learning and speech delay in our eldest son, turned out to be a moderate to severe bi-lateral hearing loss (which means that both ears are affected). The diagnosis of our youngest son followed quickly.  

“Initially – I feared what the future held for them as there were so many unknowns. Looking back, post a lot of education, research and experience, I realise that my fears were unfounded. The sky is the limit for what my boys want to achieve.

My boys’ hearing loss has made them adaptable, resilient and empathetic. It is such a unique and special part of who they both are and they’re helping to educate our own family, their friends and their families about what inclusivity truly means.”

“I am always going to worry - that’s just part of being ‘Mum’ - but as a family and for me personally, our experience has given us the ability to begin to think more inclusively about the world for everyone with disabilities.”

 

Louisa Kartey, Client Services Executive, UK:

“From an early age, I’ve struggled with losing items, forgetfulness, time-blindness and being easily distracted – to name a few challenges! Over time, I’d learnt ways to mask and dismiss these symptoms but I knew that the frequency and severity of them was different to others’ experiences and I was forced to recognise I could be neurodiverse.  

“I was officially diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-Inattentive Type in February 2021. Whilst it has been a journey of acceptance, there was also a sense of relief to know that there was a reason behind my differences. Learning about the abilities that come with having ADHD has been eye-opening and refreshing.

“There’s a myth that a personality trait of being neurodiverse is trying to be ‘quirky’. Plus, I’ve heard ADHD being described as ‘laziness’, the disorder being ‘over-diagnosed’ and that neurodiverse conditions are childhood disorders you outgrow. To me these are dismissive and simplifies the struggles of being neurodiverse.

“My own acceptance of having ADHD has given me a new found confidence. Learning to work with my ADHD, instead of against it. Speaking about my ADHD empowers me; I think it is important for everybody to understand and continue to educate themselves on what neurodiversity is. To create real impact we must continue to speak on it.”

 

Stephen Kwa, Head of Product, North America:

Stephen on the left with his family

“When my son Finnian was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in January of 2020, we thought it was the end of our world. Neither me nor my husband really knew anything about autism, which fed into our ignorant fears about what life as a family would be like going forward.

“However, life is ever-changing, forcing us all to evolve in hopefully the kindest, most empathetic ways. Nothing has opened the doors to empathy for us more than having such a very special child with special needs.

“Our son may not like large groups of kids, but get him one-to-one after school with a classmate and he will spend hours figuring out precisely what makes his friends tick: what makes them laugh, what their fears are or most especially what passions light them up in this world. He’s also more than happy to guide others along into the world of nature and animals that he so loves with all his heart.

“As a parent, my duty is to meet Finnian at who he is, not where I expect him to be. The most important thing is that he’s a happy and kind individual, who knows and understands himself enough to become the loving, self-sufficient young man we see him evolving into.”

Driving inclusion at Schroders

At Schroders, we place a high value on a culture of inclusion. Our employee-led network WorkAbility, backed by the senior leadership team, wants to increase accessibility for everyone.

WorkAbility actively seeks to do this by: supporting and giving people the confidence to discuss their diverse abilities, disability or long-term condition freely; championing accessibility with an open forum to discuss current accessibility topics and promoting positive inclusion stories; educating and supporting colleagues, ensuring reasonable adjustments are made that are equal in value to mainstream solutions. 

As a Disability Confident employer and a member of the global Valuable 500 initiative, we’ve partnered with a disability-specialist organisation to conduct an audit and provide recommendations on how to make our recruitment processes more accessible to candidates with a disability. We’re also excited to continue our charity partnership with the Snowdon Trust – who provide financial awards to disabled students to access further and higher education.
 
Hear from our people about how we are continuing to create a more inclusive workplace at Schroders. 

 

Related news:

Celebrating our deaf role models this World Day of The Deaf

Podcast: Schroders-supported Lee Spencer on not being defined by disability

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