Nurture your dyslexic colleagues in PR or risk losing them to NASA

Over the past 10 years, I’ve conducted surveys into the treatment of dyslexic professionals in the workplace and I’ve found that more and more of them are striking out on their own, due to unwelcoming and unsupportive working environments.

If people with dyslexia are good enough for NASA and GCHQ, then why not for your PR team, asks Ellen Cole
If people with dyslexia are good enough for NASA and GCHQ, then why not for your PR team, asks Ellen Cole

Given my own journey with dyslexia, it feels like history is repeating itself; but starting your own business should be a choice, not a necessity.

There are a lot of strengths in working with dyslexic PR professionals, which tend to be missed due to the word ‘dyslexia’ being associated with many negative traits.

Giants such as Google and NASA actively recruit people with learning differences, so what are other industries not seeing that these well-regarded organisations are?

Looking at it from a PR perspective, dyslexic talent has a unique skill set in terms of thinking outside the box and communicating in exciting and innovative ways. Dyslexic individuals often feel as if their brains are wired differently.

Superpowers

We can see the bigger picture, noticing aspects that others might miss. When embarking on a PR campaign, what more could you want?

Many dyslexic PR professionals are highly creative – we see things in a completely different way to others, finding new and innovative angles on stories. I’m able to think up newsworthy, PR-able stories quickly. Being a curious, investigative thinker means I can build relationships with journalists with ease.

My dyslexia helps me to spot patterns, as well as potential problems and solutions from the get-go. In PR, I’ve found this invaluable in content planning, strategising and overcoming setbacks.

Making accommodations for those with dyslexia needn’t be difficult. Adapting workplace communications by using clear fonts, bolding important information and bullet pointing makes information more digestible for everyone, not just those with dyslexia.

GCHQ, an organisation that handles top secret information, uses smart recording pens in its meetings to help their dyslexic colleagues to do their best work. Surely, similar adjustments should be no hassle for PR?

For example, Assistive Technology (AT) software, which reads text out loud to users, has massively improved my productivity.

It needs to become the norm in the workplace to retain talent. Everyone (regardless of whether they have a learning difference or not) has strengths and weaknesses. Nurturing teams and helping them to better understand and empower one another to achieve their potential is key.

But above all, employers need to listen and they need to be flexible.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, especially when it comes to dyslexia – everyone has their own strengths and faces different challenges. For example, not all dyslexics struggle with reading and writing.

Dyslexic professionals offer amazing creativity and problem-solving skills, but if PR wants to make the most of this, inclusivity must improve.

If organisations were to make small changes to help dyslexic talent thrive, they would find it pays off in the long run. Nurture your dyslexic colleagues, and watch your business grow.

Ellen Cole is director and founder of PR agency Little Seed Group

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