Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
On my application form, I put that I would need step-free access to the building. I also have specific dietary requirements, and I was relieved that this was simply accepted and catered for. Someone from the early careers team contacted me before the interview to confirm this and double-check that there was no additional support that I needed.
Before I started at Atkins, I had multiple conversations with my line manager and the regional HSE advisor to try and put adjustments in place before I started so that everything would be ready for me. They also talked me through what would happen on my first day in the office, and I was taken on a tour of the office to make sure I could access everything in my wheelchair.
I have an assigned desk with an ergonomic chair and leg rest. Multiple members of my team had to be trained on how to use an evac-chair to allow me to access the first floor of the building.
Having the chair and leg rest makes a huge difference to my days in the office, as I know I can be comfortable at work. Having the assigned desk (which I was able to select in conjunction with the HSE advisor, as it is easily wheelchair accessible) reassures me that I will always have a physical working environment specifically for me that is assessable and comfortable.
What led you to this role? Why did you choose to join this organisation?
A couple of members of the airport team came and did a presentation at the university where I was doing my masters, and what struck me was how much there seemed to be a people-focus within the company. It seemed like a company who valued individual differences and worked hard to accommodate everyone’s needs and allow them to reach their full potential. That’s when I knew Atkins was the company for me.
How do you manage your disability at work?
My line manager is incredibly supportive in all aspects of my working life. He had never worked with a disabled colleague before, so was new to the processes that we had to follow (e.g. the adjustments, PEEP), but was very eager to learn and make things as easy as possible for me. During my second week at Atkins, I gave my team a presentation, explaining a bit about my background and also exploring some of the language used and ‘do’s and don’ts’ when interacting with disabled people. This really helped break the ice with the wider team, who quickly learnt not to be afraid of ‘saying the wrong thing’ to me, and now it feels like they don’t even see my disability, just another colleague.