"It’s a journey, but in terms of people's openness and willingness to try different ways of doing things, IMPOWER have been really supportive." – Frances Tinsley
People with Dyslexia shouldn’t be put off exploring a career in consultancy, especially at IMPOWER.
When I joined IMPOWER it was the start of my consultancy career and, honestly, I’d never considered a career in consulting before. I thought being dyslexic meant that I wouldn’t have the written and organisational skills to be able to keep up in a fast-paced, client-facing environment. I was also anxious about whether my colleagues would have misconceptions about neurodiversity and how they would perceive me. But the social impact of IMPOWER’s work, and the appeal of being in an ever-changing project-based role, meant that I applied anyway and was successful.
Dyslexia means my brain processes information in a different way to other people. One of the ways this manifests for me is difficulties with spelling and organising myself, and my thoughts aren’t processed in a linear manner – meaning my writing style is often convoluted and jumbled! In previous roles, I tried to fit into a neurotypical box and didn’t have the confidence to adapt the tasks I was given to the way my brain works. This meant I couldn’t thrive.
At IMPOWER I was supported by the government's Access to Work process but, more importantly, I was given the flexibility and encouragement to work in a way which suits me and how my brain works. Colleagues may not have known much about dyslexia, but they were up for learning more. They encouraged me to adapt tasks to play to my strengths, and incorporate any tools that could help me.
Over the past two years of working at IMPOWER I’ve reframed how I think about being dyslexic. I no longer see it as a deficit, a difficulty, or something I need to make up for. Now I see it as a strength and an asset. I’ve received feedback on my creative way of thinking and my ability to see things from a different perspective, which allows me to find innovative solutions. However, the greatest strength I have as a consultant is the ability to identify patterns, themes, and the connections between things. This allows me to take in the bigger picture and recognise interdependencies and complexity within systems, so I can work with clients to address the root cause of difficulties. I credit all these strengths to my dyslexic brain – I even won ‘The Innovator’ prize in our staff awards last year for my work on the Listening Tool!
The concept of co-production is integral to IMPOWER. Rather than going into an organisation and telling them what they need, we listen intently to workers; interpreting and supporting them to come up with sustainable solutions that they can incorporate into their services.
The internal culture at IMPOWER works the same way. Instead of telling neurodivergent employees what they need, these individuals are helping to define the processes and support they receive. This is the best way of ensuring needs are met, rather than prescribing a ‘one size fits all’ package. Currently my colleague Sandra and I are developing a toolkit to help managers understand neurodiversity and better support neurodivergent staff. One of the things we’re exploring is how behavioural science tools like MINDSPACE
can be used as a framework to support neurodivergent people.
Last week was Neurodiversity Celebration Week, and I would like to use this opportunity to encourage employers to remember that the reason the term neurodiversity was developed in the '90s was to shift the discourse about ways of thinking and learning away from deficits, disorders, and impairments. Neurological differences are normal and should be recognised, respected, and valued.
If you are neurodivergent and are considering a career in consulting, do it! Get in touch with IMPOWER.