DISABLED STAFF ROLE MODELS

Manchester Metropolitan University is committed to ensuring that all its staff and students are able to work in an inclusive environment, regardless of their age, disability, gender, marital status, race, religious belief (or no belief), sexual orientation or transgender status.

Disabled staff are more motivated, efficient and confident in the workplace when they are able to feel supported with their disability. However, disclosure can lead to a feeling of vulnerability so it is not something that is easy for everyone.

The Equality & Diversity Role Models series profiling disabled staff members on ManMetLife was introduced to mark the International Day of Disabled People (3rd Dec) and to highlight the fact that having a disability need not be a barrier to thrive at Manchester Met. We encourage other disabled staff to inform their line manager so that they feel supported and their talents will not go to waste.

The series demonstrates that diversity – and being our authentic selves – is something to be celebrated. No matter what your job role within Manchester Met, if you are disabled and would like to feature as a role model and/or need any advice, please contact equalities@mmu.ac.uk or call us on 0161 247 6494.

Further Guidance for disabled staff or their line managers is available from http://www.mmu.ac.uk/equality-and-diversity/disability/


Victoria Stone is Acting Management Services Group Manager, Student & Academic Services – Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Equality & Diversity Champion (L&T, FSAS)

MA 6. VICTORIA STONE

Why do you think it’s important to have disabled staff role models?
As an Equality and Diversity Champion, I recognise it’s important for us all to understand that not disabilities are visible and that a disability is only one element of the person.
I’m really passionate about our workforce reflecting the communities, students and employers which we engage with on a daily basis.

Does being disabled influence your working life? If so, how?
I’m very lucky that my epilepsy is very well controlled and I’ve not had to worry too much about it affecting my working life.  The combination of epilepsy and medication means I often struggle with tiredness, losing train of thought and retaining information in my short-term memory.  I’m also seeing my GP, a specialist consultant and an epilepsy specialist nurse – so there is quite a bit of support out there!

A recent change in job has meant that I’ve had to think about how it impacts on my working life much more and make sure I manage my health along with my workload.  Mainly by making sure, I’m getting enough rest outside of work but also because of memory issues, I keep things written down or getting people to clarify anything I’m struggling with.

How easy is it to talk to your manager/s about your disability?
Easy, particularly more recently as I’ve had to have some adjustments and it’s been a simple case of keeping everyone informed and updated as and when needed.

How easy is it to talk to your colleagues about your disability?
I’ve made sure that the staff I manage and the groups I work with frequently are aware of my condition and the adjustments I have in place.  This means I can be open about my health needs and any medical appointments.  It also enables me to make sure and feel I’m contributing to the team as a whole.

What kind of reasonable adjustments has the University put in place to support you at work?
Due to the effect exhaustion can have on my health, I have agreed one day a fortnight working from home. I keep the staff I line manage up to date when I won’t be in the office and keep a poster of what to do if someone has a seizure in my office as that’s where I spend most of my time.

What advice would you give to other disabled staff or students who may be facing difficulties because of their disability?
Speak to HR or someone you trust in the first instance.  If you don’t feel you can talk to your line manager, see if there is someone else who can offer you advice or guidance.  The University takes inclusion seriously and my experiences of assisting staff and students is that everyone works hard to make sure you feel welcome and supported.  We’re all learning about the range of challenges people face every day and I would encourage staff to talk and share their experiences.

What can we all do to make Manchester Met a better place for disabled staff and/or students?
To make sure we’re all doing our bit I’d say that the more staff who get involved with one of the E&D staff for a, the bigger difference we can make to each other and ultimately influencing improvements to the University.  You don’t have to (for example) have a disability to join the forum, remember it’s all about being inclusive!

What works really well is that I’m a member of all four for a networks: Race, Disability, Gender and LGBT, but if you cannot attend the meetings, you can still sign up to receive updates from the meeting and pass on any issues you think need raising.  Find out more here: http://www.mmu.ac.uk/equality-and-diversity/