Severing the 'disability' tie and empowering dyslexic talent

The professional networking site, LinkedIn recently listed ‘dyslexic thinking’ as an official skill and there has been a notable mind shift from age-old beliefs of it being a disability; yet more needs to be done and the yawning gap between talented dyslexic professionals simply wanting to be recognised for their overall talents and businesses going out of their way to mark them as ‘different’ still exists. So, what can be done to empower, rather than differentiate dyslexic professionals?
HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd
Severing the 'disability' tie and empowering dyslexic talent
Empowering dyslexic talent is the biggest resource employers can offer


To empower dyslexic professionals and give them the tools to showcase their talents is surely the holy grail of letting them shine.

Ella Minnow Pea is a book I read a few years ago that has stuck in my memory. It’s set on the fictional island of Nollop, off the coast of South Carolina, the island’s Government takes the pangram, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” very seriously. As successive titles fall from the inscription beneath a memorial statue to Nevin Nollop, the Government bans the use of those letters in written or spoken communication. The island’s high council becomes increasingly nonsensical as the alphabet diminishes.

As a writer, I’ve often thought about what it would be like to struggle with reading and writing and while the tale of an unusual and reduced alphabet at Nollop is sensationally fictional, it does highlight what it must be like for many dyslexic people to struggle daily with what others find comes as a straightforward skill. Tantamount to the people of Nollop wearing a straitjacket on both their speech, comprehension and written communications, dyslexia is a suffocation of what you actually want to say and what your mind may think but fails to transpose into the written word.

When the workplace is awash with the need for impressive written communication, this can be a huge challenge for professionals, yet many dyslexic professionals offer a diversity and a difference advantage that can help give employers that secret edge, a creative solution to problems and that power to excel. What most want, though, is just be picked for their talents, not because they have heightened presentation and verbal skills.

Harnessing dyslexic power

There are celebrities that come to mind that have been challenged with dyslexia and come out of the other side of a rough experience at school, making fortunes to boot. The most obvious one to roll off the lips, while not the written word, is Richard Branson. He is described by Wikipedia as a business magnate, which seems not impressive enough for his accomplishments. Needless to say as he sits on his own private retreat of Necker Island in the Caribbean, he must scoff at the school teachers who dismissed his written failings as the predictor of a boy who would amount to nothing.

Over the years, I learnt to harness my dyslexic thinking and embrace the curious ways my mind would work. I was also drawn to other people with eccentric characters and curious ways of thinking. And so, we built teams with bold ideas, and we gave them the freedom to execute them

Richard Branson | Business Magnate

Writing on Instagram, Branson says, “I stumbled upon this realisation early on in my career, when my dyslexic thinking led me to find new solutions to old problems that businesses were struggling to address.

“Over the years, I learnt to harness my dyslexic thinking and embrace the curious ways my mind would work. I was also drawn to other people with eccentric characters and curious ways of thinking. And so, we built teams with bold ideas, and we gave them the freedom to execute them. We weren’t fussed on qualifications or credentials, and we focused on attitude over accolades.

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