Rob Surratt identifies as a neurodiverse individual with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Currently, he is a Learning Solutions Manager in the Talent Development and Learning team and a steering committee member of the Disability Awareness Alliance United States, an employee network at State Street. He shared with us how the post- pandemic workplace allows better opportunities for candidates with disabilities and Alliance's plans for 2022.
Tell us more about your role at Disability Awareness Alliance, one of the employee networks at State Street?
As someone who identifies as a person with a disability, I feel empowered as a part of this group to affect change and help in making the organization inclusive. I think some of the key elements that the network drove in 2021 were opportunities to talk about the intersection of race and disability, which was critical. For 2022, having more events to connect employees to the topics of disability, mental health and intersectionality will be critical. The fact that the pandemic is ongoing highlights that we need to continue hearing from our people, care for them and create spaces for self-care as well. All underrepresented communities are hurting and this equitable approach will help in driving inclusive environments.
What are the new hybrid work features that help you and other employees thrive?
Folks with neurodiversity more often than not benefit from quieter spaces to focus. In university, I would take my tests in a room with glass doors and extra time to help me in focusing on the task at hand. Given that I am a people person, I also enjoy interacting but I believe that the opportunity to focus at home is a critical benefit. I think that the hybrid model and remote working has enabled greater inclusion for the underrepresented population. Unconscious bias happens at times when we first "see" someone. In a virtual environment, we don't always have that initial assessment of someone, often leveraging email or other avenues to communicate. We are also visually seeing individuals in their comfort zones - home, so are able to see the more human side of each other.
Given your experience, what is your advice to individuals or managers looking to embrace people with disabilities more?
Listen to others' stories and what they are going through. Take time to pause, listen and reflect. I have found that often we do not hear the depth of what people are trying to communicate. Amidst the pandemic, the racism and discrimination towards underrepresented groups has been overshadowed by the challenges of remote working and communicating with people virtually. I believe we all need someone to listen to us and to allow space for discussion or venting. As difficult as things may seem, where there is hope, there is potential for change.
As Someone Who Identifies As Neurodiverse, I Feel Empowered As a Part of Our Employee Network.
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Enterprise Learning Solutions Manager, Inclusion, Diversity & Equity and Professional SkillsPrevious Page