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BT Ireland marks UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

To mark UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities BT Ireland are delighted to get an insight from BT Pricing Support Manager, Rosie McAdam, on her own experiences and the challenges people with disabilities face on a daily basis. Rosie has been in BT for over 18 years and is known for her straight-forward and honest views.

Tell us about your job in BT?

I work primarily with the Business Sales teams in ROI, I raise requests for new services, arrange credit vetting, work on projects for major customers, raise Order Forms for new services and generally help Account Managers in any way I can.

How important is it for you for companies to demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion?

It is all very well and good having policies that show that you are inclusive and value diversity, but unless your workforce actually reflects the diversity of the population as a whole, can you honestly say you can demonstrate diversity and inclusion? Companies are now realising that those who value diversity and inclusion can be more successful in business.

There are 1 billion people in the world with disabilities. A large proportion are unemployed. What advice would you have for employers about attracting and retaining people with disabilities?

Employers need to focus more on what the person with a disability can do as opposed to what they can’t do. Look at how certain aspects of a role could be adapted so that a person with a disability who has the necessary qualifications can do the job. People with disabilities don’t want special treatment they want the opportunity to be able to prove that they are just as good as everyone else.

We are a communications and IT company. How helpful do you think technology can be to helping people with disabilities?

Technological advances have made huge changes to the lives of many people with disabilities allowing them to do things that previously would have been nearly impossible. Everyone now has a smart phone, on this you can talk to Google and get it to text for you, this speech to text software was originally designed to help people with disabilities and now it is widely used by everyone. In BT most people take for granted that they can work from home a number of days a week, the option to work from home, either a few days a week or for the majority of your working time, could be the difference between a person who acquires a disability in work continuing to work and achieve their goals and aspirations or becoming another statistic where they are unemployed and relying on benefits.

In the area of diversity and inclusion, some people have said that they are sometimes nervous speaking to people from different backgrounds in case they say the wrong thing. What advice would you give them?

Well I’ve been in BT Ireland for over 18 years and as yet, no one has asked me anything or said anything that offended me to any great deal, however I would say, think before you speak especially if you are asking a question that may be related to the persons disability or abilities. Ask yourself is the question pertinent, do you really need to know or are you just curious of what the answer may be. If its need to know, ask, but be careful on the wording.

Have you ever faced discrimination in your life? If so, do you have any advice on how you dealt with it?

I was born this way, think that might be the name of a book somewhere, but seriously, I was born with a disability and in my thirties, I had the pleasure of getting another one, double trouble some might say. Yes of course I’ve been discriminated against in my 40 odd years. It took me a year to find a job when the Celtic Tiger was roaring at its loudest and you knew in some cases you didn’t get the job because you maybe didn’t have the necessary experience or skills and in other cases it was blatant discrimination. What you going to do, I was young; I dusted myself off and just got on with it. I’ve always lived by the motto everything happens for a reason, the good stuff and the not so good stuff. If I hadn’t been discriminated against all those years ago, I may never have worked in BT Ireland, had some amazing experiences, got to know so many people, got to work in Sales – which is the reason I own my home.

If you became a global leader for a day, what three changes would you make to help advance people with disabilities?

Universal Healthcare would be number one, we are an ageing population and like it or not, disability is on the rise, there are 8% more disabled people in Ireland than there were in 2011 (census 2016). There are people with disabilities who cite losing their medical card as one of the main reasons they don’t want to work. With Universal Healthcare it would be one less barrier to employment.

I’d make Disability Awareness Training compulsory for all owners of business and managers, regardless of the size of the business, these needs to be from the top down. Companies need to want to change and have a diverse and inclusive workforce. In some organisations this could mean a massive culture change, but it is nearly 2018, it’s time for the change.

Cobblestones they are the bane of my life and anyone in a Wheelchair, I’d ban them globally and I’d get them ripped out of anywhere they were, this would not only benefit people in Wheelchairs and those with walking difficulties, but anyone who wishes to wear high heels. There are lots of places I won’t go and can’t go because of cobblestones, going over them is what I’d imagine is akin to cycling down a flight of stairs on a bike.

Click this link for more information on UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

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