Learning difficulty at work: A supportive workplace makes the difference
- Posted on July 22, 2019
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
On April 2 of this year, we marked Autism Awareness Day with a story from Senior Analyst Ashley Wetzel. Her experience inspired me to share my own with the hope that we can spark conversation about neurodiversity and learning difficulties and take a step forward in decreasing the stigma in the workplace.
My name is Jed Khan and I have something to tell you: I have a learning difficulty – I am dyslexic. That was easy enough to say. Well, it is these days, especially at Avanade!
For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a Director within the Innovation & Offering Services Team looking after our Global Data & AI Partner Ecosystem, based in London. I’m also the proud father to Amelia and Sher with my partner Martine and have a dog called Snoopy.
Being dyslexic has always played a big part throughout my career. However, it was also something that I kept a secret from most employers prior to Avanade. Why? I didn’t want to be labelled as being slow or not get a job or promotion due to my dyslexia. When I told a previous employer about being dyslexic, they then joked about implementing pre-screening tests for their candidates to avoid hiring people like me.
People like me include anyone with a learning difficulty, which can include:
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Learning difficulties are described as specific problems with processing certain forms of information. They do not affect intelligence. Dyslexia is a specific type of learning difficulty, which means it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning like reading and writing.
Dyslexia impacts me by making words appear as though they move around when I’m reading. This means it takes me much longer to read something, as I have to spend more time re-reading and ensuring I understand the text. Writing can sometimes also be a bit tricky. So, if you’re wondering why I haven’t replied straight away to an email you sent, it is because I am taking my time to read and reply to it.
This all makes me a very visual learner – a picture’s worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. Working in the tech industry has really helped. The tools Microsoft offers helped me overcome some of these challenges, and it’s great to see that Microsoft has become the first company to sign a global pledge to help people with dyslexia with these amazing accessibility features.
One of the reasons I joined Avanade was the knowledge that I could be open about my dyslexia from the day I started. During the interview process, I met some great people that inspired me and made me fully aware of how Avanade is proud to have a diverse culture and truly lives by its values. There is a sense that everyone wants to help each other and believes in inclusiveness.
There are two people in particular at Avanade that form my support system – the buddy I was assigned as a new joiner and my career adviser. Having worked for several global companies previously, I haven’t come across the buddy system or the idea of a career adviser in the way that it is implemented at Avanade. Seeing these in action has allowed me to feel I can truly be who I am and shine. I check in with both my buddy and career adviser on a weekly basis, even if just to sound things off, let them know how I am doing and ask for advice on whether there is anything I could be doing differently. Both people have been fantastic support and the two roles are such a valuable asset to the business.
I would encourage everyone to be open and not to let neurodiversity or learning difficulties hold you back. We have an amazingly inclusive and diverse community here at Avanade where we have each other’s backs. I hope you think of me next time you are struggling with something – do come to talk to me or reach out online. Having a learning difficulty or being neurodiverse doesn’t have to be a secret you carry around, which is something I learned from Avanade’s supportive environment and tenacity in helping people overcome the challenges they face.