My name is Emma Acheson-Gray, and I’m a Business Technology and Integration Associate at Accenture. I graduated from Newcastle University in 2018 with a degree in politics. I was also born with a rare congenital neuromuscular disorder.
Tell us about your journey through the recruitment process
When I graduated, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I started doing internships in different industries to get a taste of what graduate work would be like. This experience was vital for me both in terms of understanding what I wanted from a career and where my skills were suited, but also to understand how my medical condition would be impacted by a normal working routine.
I chose to apply to companies based on a combination of the role offered, the proximity to accessible public transport, and their thoughts on accessibility and an inclusive workplace. MyPlus was a really useful resource to connect to these kinds of employers and helped me gain a place on the Accenture Tech Visionaries 4-day immersive learning experience.
In general, I found disclosing my disability uncomfortable during recruitment processes, and it’s still something that I’m working on. I felt anxious that employers would see it as a negative or an added cost. I quickly realised that disclosing your disability is important in ensuring you have a level playing-field during the recruitment process, and it gives the employer the opportunity to offer support and assistance you may not be aware exists.
I think it’s also important to remember that your disability will have given you unique skills and experiences that other candidates may not have had exposure to. In interviews, I could use my experience of managing a disability to demonstrate skills like time management, problem solving, and resilience.
How do you manage your disability in the workplace?
In the office, I have the option to have a reserved desk and locker space so that I can leave my belongings in the office overnight. As a consultancy, there’s also a travelling element to our roles, so Accenture provides support and guidance on ensuring that projects and locations are accessible and manageable.
What is your company’s approach to disability?
Accenture is an ambitious organisation that is focussed on enablement and is leading the way in being an inclusive and diverse company that prides itself on creating a supportive working environment for everyone. In terms of disability, there is a great internal disability network called Accent on Enablement. This is a group of employees with disabilities who promote disability confidence by supporting disabled colleagues and encouraging a more accepting internal culture by raising awareness of disability-related subjects.
Name a personal strength you have developed as a result of your disability/long-term health condition.
Definitely problem solving. My disability has affected my mobility in different ways throughout my life, so I’ve grown very used to adjusting the way I do day-to-day tasks as my physical capabilities have changed. For example, when I was about 10 years old my elbows contracted over a few months, leaving me limited to only 90 degrees extension on both of my arms. This limited movement drastically changed how I was able to do normal tasks and as I’ve grown up, I’ve found new tasks that are initially difficult given this restriction. This experience means I’m using problem-solving skills on a regular basis, and so when I see problems at work, I am able to approach them calmly and use the same skills I use in my personal life to help solve them.