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Margaret Malpas: Dyslexia at work

Tuesday 04 October 2016

In the second of a blog series to accompany new Acas research, Margaret Malpas considers the workplace aspects of the most commonly occurring form of neurodiversity: dyslexia

Margaret Malpas Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Margaret Malpas

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) is the leading national charity for current research and services to dyslexic people of all ages. For adults, the B.D.A. provides a Helpline, diagnostic and workplace needs assessments, training courses for employers and employees, publications, and conferences to disseminate the very latest academic research findings. Margaret Malpas, their Joint Chair, is both an HR expert at national level, a specialist in dyslexia with adults and is dyscalculic.

Dyslexia is the most common neuro-diverse condition, accounting for 15% of the population (with dyslexia and related conditions). But although it is the most common, it is not necessarily the most understood.

So what challenges do people with dyslexia face at work? The condition largely influences the way an individual processes and stores information. This means that someone may have problems with spelling, complex arithmetic and organising their time and travel.

But there are very compelling reasons to celebrate dyslexia. The different neurological wiring often leads to very creative thinking. Simple fact: 1:6 self-made millionaires in the UK are dyslexic.

So what can employers do to tap into these unique talents?

  • Help dyslexic staff with their coping strategies. Stress is a major problem for most employees in our 24/7 environment and this puts additional strain on those with dyslexia.
  • Foster a tolerant culture and recognise individual strengths. Check out the book "Self-Fulfilment with Dyslexia: A Blueprint for Success", and accompanying B.D.A. eLearning course, being published in February 2017. This research-based work describes the 10 characteristics of successful dyslexic adults and how to acquire them.
  • Encourage disclosure. Individuals should feel they can be open about their dyslexia. This starts by creating awareness, so download some free resources from www.bdadyslexia.org.uk and start talking.
  • Create dyslexia networks internally using mentors. Ernst and Young have been running a network through volunteers for six years; Shell (UK) have the 'Enable' network; Hampshire Police, the Fire Brigade and Communications Unions run them, as do many volunteers in the Civil Service. The new Acas research also has some good examples.
  • Be patient. It's hard to disclose your dyslexia and it takes time to learn new ways of doing things. But implementing minor adjustments and creating tolerance is a very small price to pay for employees who are immensely loyal and can generate innovative solutions to tough problems.

If you need further help?

Read other blogs in our neurodiversity series

2 Comments

Add a comment+
  • Posted by Andrew Sutherland  |  11 October 2016, 3:44PM

    Hi Tim - if you email me your contact details (asutherland@acas.org.uk) I will pass them to Margaret for her to get in touch. Thanks, Andrew.

  • Posted by Tim Hopper  |  10 October 2016, 6:25PM

    HI Margaret great study may i connect with you to share an initiative i am workin on?