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This section profiles many individuals, working across different industries, at various stages of their careers. Their interviews demonstrate that is possible to have a successful career regardless of whether or not you have a disability. They also illustrate the adjustments that can be made in the workplace.
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I was originally a professional classical dancer, and subsequently moved into commercial theatre. I then joined a large leisure company as their retail co-ordinator and sports buyer responsible for locations over the UK and in 2000 I joined EDF Energy (then SEEboard) as a Customer Service Assistant.
Over the past 13 years I have worked in a variety of areas within our South East locations. I have been a team manager and Customer Relations Manager, and now I am currently working in Operational Support. I was drawn to these roles because I felt that my strengths are in Customer Service. More importantly I have stayed at EDF Energy because you are able to grow within the business, be part of something new and you are able to change yours and the company’s path.
I am currently responsible for delivering workshops to the Customer Service managers. This includes writing the papers to be signed off, the running guide, trials and pilot groups and the actual delivery of workshops. The main focus of these workshops is the reintegration of staff with physical disabilities and mental health conditions, with regards to the long and short term sick process. This is currently under trial in our B2C (Business to Consumer) Customer Service operations, with a view to roll out company-wide.
In 2010 I fell ill suddenly and now require a wheelchair. My disability is compromised by also having a life threatening condition that flares continually at work and home. I have managed my limitations at work through constant dialogue, being transparent, adhering to all Health & Safety guidelines and policies.
Coming from a Customer Relations Manager position I was able to understand the “coin” from both sides; I had experience of my colleagues and team members returning to work and also of the process itself. This further enabled my own transition back into EDF Energy. Being positive within the work environment has helped me manage my disability. Through my work within Whizz-Kidz and the Disability & Carers Network I am able to promote both EDF Energy and disability in a really positive light.
My employers have been extremely supportive and this in turn has allowed me to work to the best of my abilities. Through my experiences I have been able to propose business training and changes; this has made feel like a valued member of staff who can contribute to the business. Knowing the business is keen to always do better, especially regarding equality gives me the motivation to lead the changes from the front.
Everyone is diverse and that is a forgone conclusion. EDF Energy is now focusing on creating a culture of Inclusion within the company, which goes beyond recognising diversity and truly values difference. Last year the company made great strides in recognising the culture we want to attain by achieving the Gold Standard, we now need to work in turning the inclusive climate into everyday behaviours.
Degree / Previous: First role at EDF, Customer Service Assistant
Year Joined / Path : 2000
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