My name is Ysabel Hardy, and I am an Audit Apprentice at KPMG. I have a chronic health condition called Endometriosis which is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows on other organs. The symptom I struggle with the most is debilitating pain.
I started KPMG in October 2021. Since then, I have completed my AAT Level 3 in Bookkeeping meaning I am now a qualified bookkeeper. I am in the process of completing my AAT Level 4 diploma in accounting which I am due to finish in September 2023. After that, I will go on to complete my Level 7 ACA – I will then be a Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales.
Throughout the recruitment process I was open about my health condition because I knew I would need time off work to attend various hospital appointments and/or surgeries. I felt supported by the fact that I had heard KPMG fostered an inclusive environment and felt comfortable sharing the difficulties I faced. KPMG booked me for an occupational health assessment which was with a doctor. I discussed with her the barriers I face with work, and we talked about adjustments that could be put in place to make it easier for me to succeed. These adjustments were then communicated to KPMG, who had no trouble ensuring these were put in place for me. Since having these in place, I have found that I am able to perform my job to the best of my ability and I am thankful that my health condition won’t stop me from progressing my career.
KPMG is very open about speaking up if you need help. Since sharing my health condition with my performance leader, he has gone out of his way to check how I am on numerous occasions and to see if there is anything else that KPMG can do to help me. There is also a network called Workability at KPMG where I wrote a ‘This is me’ article about Endometriosis. The ‘this is me’ project is for staff to anonymously write about their condition, how it affects them at work and what we would like others to know. I thought this was a great initiative as it allowed people to voice their difficulties but also remain anonymous.
Due to my health condition being chronic, I have learnt the skill of resilience. Despite the barriers I face, such as being in severe pain, I still keep going to make sure I get my work done. In addition, I have learnt determination because, although my struggle may not be visible to others, I have said to myself from the start that I will not let my condition stop me from where I want to get to in my career – and because I feel supported and empowered by KPMG, I know that it won’t stop me.
My advice to those, with a disability/health condition, going through a recruitment process, whether that be for an apprentice or graduate position or a job, would be to be open about the barriers that you face. I know, first hand, how daunting it is to share these details with others as my first thought was that I wouldn’t get hired if they knew. However, that isn’t the case. If you are open from the get-go then adjustments can be put in place to make your life easier and ultimately more enjoyable. You should never feel ashamed for something that is completely out of your control – instead it is about discussing how your employer can support your additional needs.