Seeing Ability - Inclusivity and Accessibility
Updated: Feb 1, 2020
Link to Original Blog Post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/seeing-ability-tiffany-ho/?published=t
On Oct 23rd, I had the opportunity to attend RBC’s 2nd event 'Seeing Ability Recruitment Event-Students and Professionals With Disabilities' in their #DiversityWorksHere event series. It was a day full of workshops from Abilocity, speakers, on the topic of accommodation, disclosure, and breaking barriers on the journey to build a successful career.
For me, the topic itself is a difficult conversation. In high school, I used to be a high achieving student, taking on leadership roles in multiple clubs and dedicating volunteering 5+ hours a week. I started struggling mid-1st-year and 2nd-year university, where my academics, physical and mental health went on a downfall. It wasn’t until being referred across multiple student resources before finally working with my school's student accessibility services, that I realized I needed some support. There was an increasing days of struggling, days lost, and not being able to fully function. It was at that point I lost hope. I wanted to give up. Following those semesters wasn't easy, although I had academic supports, I was afraid to reach out to professors with requests. Throughout today, I still struggle to reach out for help, but I am learning to adapt.
Over the past two years, my focus and energy have changed, but my motivation hasn't. I continue to have a difficult time accepting the change, overcommitting myself to campus clubs/activities, continuing to take on higher-level and more courses than I should, not realizing my potential has changed. It takes time, and I still haven't figured out how my condition affects me, but the workshop had empowered me to change my perspective. My summer at RBC had also been a journey of acceptance.
My summer at RBC
When I received an offer to work for RBC this summer, I couldn’t be more excited to do my first internship with a corporate company, a bank, and knowing all the student opportunities. Although back in February, I had a phone chat with Ronald Peters, Inclusive Recruitment Specialist, to understand the process of accommodation and disclosure at RBC, one of the hardest things to do was send in the request to initiate the accommodation process. And even then, after I received the documents, I pondered many more days before signing the form. As mentioned from the presentation, people don't disclose for various reasons. (Fear of discrimination lost opportunity, stigma, or they don't see it as relevant.) For me, it was all of the above plus not being able to see myself identifying with having a disability, as I created a strong self-stigma between a visible and invisible disability. As it was new to me, I once again struggled to keep up but fear to utilize my supports.
As I look back, I couldn't be more thankful for how supportive and encouraging my manager was. Even with the accommodations set in place, I was afraid to use them. I was scared of looking weak, being questioned, and looking different among my peers. For me, that meant I took more and frequent breaks. I presented differently in meetings. I needed a heads-up before group meetings. And somedays, I took longer to get tasks done. Although it wasn't particularly feasible for this particular job, I am willing to put in the extra time and effort. However, not only did she accommodate me according to recommendations, but she also encouraged me to use them as needed, as well as supported and coached personal development within the areas of struggles.
At RBC, diversity and inclusion doesn’t just end at the statements that appear at the bottom of the job postings, the presentations and workshops, but the ongoing feeling of welcome and being valued.
Things have changed but it hasn't changed the who person I am.
“Diversity is a fact……., Inclusion is what you do…. Belonging is how someone feels” -Brien Convery