A personal perspective on disability and intersectionality

Until recently I hadn’t thought of myself as having a disability and would never have thought to tick any box that indicated I have one, outside of medical contexts. Part of that was my own understanding of what disability is. Part was that I couldn’t think of accommodations an employer could or would provide to help me. And part is because there is a risk in disclosing such information.

I’ve long had an interest in inclusion and diversity but sharing my personal experience is not always comfortable. I was aware from an early age that masking aspects of appearance, gender, cultural background, and socioeconomic status was required to reach my goals. It was just how things were done. I learned that putting my hand up would not always result in a positive experience. And I became aware that doing so may take something away from someone who I felt needed it more.

A had a lightbulb moment at a conference a few years ago where the speaker described intersectionality. It’s something which I think is relevant to everyone as it is how our identity around race, class, gender and ability overlaps to create unique experiences of marginalization. I suddenly had a word to describe my experience in terms more relevant than just being complicated, or complex, or challenging.

Through my career working in the digital workplace and employee experience space I’ve learned a lot about accessibility, usability and how organisations can design more equitable experiences. I’m curious about how we can shed light on intersectionality and the additional pressure that can put on individuals trying to navigate life and work. To develop my own knowledge and skills I’m studying Psychological Science (Organisational Studies) part-time. I’m proud to have joined Avanade where I feel welcomed, supported, and can directly influence change through the DiversAbility employee network.

My goal is to help everyone become better informed about disability and diversity in general, and that my nieces, nephews and young cousins enter a workforce where they don’t have to hide who they are to show what they can do.

I wrote this as part of my introduction as a member of the Avanade DiversAbility Australia Employee Network and to mark the International Day of People with Disabilities on December 3 2021.

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