How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
Before joining the internship, BofA Merrill’s HR team made sure that things were put in place for me, so that when I arrived, the relevant people were already aware of my disability. That saved needing to have a potentially awkward conversation on the first day.
They also made sure I had the systems on my computer that I needed for dyslexia – for example one that you talk to and it types for you, and vice versa. Physical modifications were needed for my chair too; as I only have one arm, so, if I don’t sit correctly, I can get chronic backache. I met with occupational health, knowing I could follow up with HR if I needed to. I’ve found everyone at the bank to be very open. Not many people have come across someone with one arm; it’s a rare disability to have, and the BofA Merrill team have been very accommodating with looking into different ways to help me and make my life easier.
What advice or top tips would you offer?
If you have a disability, accept that it’s what makes you special, and that’s who you are. I would also advise you to be very open about it. The more transparent you are about your disability, the more people are able to provide the support you need in order to succeed in your career. If you don’t discuss your disability, your employer won’t know how to support you and to enable you to shine in your strengths. At BofAMerrill in particular they are very open to discussing ways in which they can help employees with disabilities.
How did BofA Merrill help you through the application process?
Their Occupational Health and HR teams ensure that everything is in place prior to each stage. If you decide to disclose your disability before you take the on-line test, they’ll make sure that any adjustments are made for the interview process. So when you arrive, you feel on par with everyone else, like you should. During the assessment centre, HR was always in contact with me. They made sure they knew exactly what I needed to be done, and there was always someone I could contact with any questions, problems or worries about the application process. That was a massive help, because it’s so nice to have a point of contact you can openly talk to.
How did you get started in your career and what drew you to BofA Merrill?
My father encouraged me to do an economic and financial degree. When I started at University, I didn’t know much about the financial industry, and it wasn’t until I attended networking events and participated in internships that I came to realise how much variety there is in job roles in this sector. Attending the internships helped me to work out what roles I enjoyed the most and where I felt I had the greatest potential to thrive.
Having met many people from various institutions throughout my internships, the people and culture at BofA Merrill really stood out. What impressed me was their commitment to diversity and inclusion, team work and meritocracy. Everyone was extremely supportive, helpful and welcoming.
How do you manage your disability at work?
Having lived with my disability all my life, I am fortunate to know where my weaknesses are and how to prevent these from hindering me. However, it is inevitable that new challenges arise and my disability can put me at a slight disadvantage in certain circumstances. In these cases, I use my own initiative and assertiveness to ensure I recognise any potential challenges, then confidently express my concerns and make it clear what I require to overcome the challenge. The key is to be open and articulate about any concerns you might have.
BofA Merrill makes sure that any challenges or disadvantages are minimal. This is not only due to the network they have available to help you out with equipment etc but the people are what make the biggest difference to me. Everyone is understanding, supportive and enthusiastic to help you out in every way possible. Everyone is also very open and available to talk about issues you might have and help come up with solutions.
What advice would you give someone with dyslexia?
Never let your disability get you down and prevent you from achieving your ambitions. If anything, it should make you stronger and more determined to achieve your aspirations. Be as open as possible and don't be afraid to ask questions. Talk to people about it. Even though others around you may not have dyslexia and/or a disability, this doesn’t mean they can’t provide you with help and advice.
How would you describe the culture at BofA Merrill?
The culture is very unique. Everyone works as a team, and they all contribute and support one another to thrive and succeed. The commitment to diversity and inclusion is particularly evident and makes a big difference no matter who you are. Everyone is particularly friendly, helpful and supportive in every respect. Whether in regard to your personal development, disability or general day to day activities, everyone is friendly and willing to help.
Read more dyslexia stories:
- Debs at Enterprise Rent-a-Car
- Lewis at National Grid
- Sam at Accenture
- Selina at PwC
- William at Reed Smith