June 2023

Everyone, no matter what limitations they may have, has the potential to add so much value to an organisation. However, if they feel unable to perform at their best, the impact is felt by their employer as much as by the individual.

We want to make sure our members get the most out of working here and that we make the most of the value they can bring. It’s very easy for someone with a disability to feel they are at a disadvantage in the workplace and at CGI we work with our members who have any form of disability (physical or non-physical) to identify adjustments that will benefit their performance. Having a disability doesn’t need to be a negative thing at work - we just need to have open conversations and increase our knowledge so that all of us can get the best out of each other.

Leading disability support at CGI

I myself have impaired hearing and wear hearing aids. This has meant making adjustments to my way of working. In my 11 years with CGI, they’ve been particularly helpful with that.

I am currently the Vice President for Marketing & Communications in the UK and Australia (UK&A) Strategic Business Unit and sit on the UK&A Leadership team. In 2020, I took on the role of senior sponsor for Disability. I wanted to make sure that everyone with a disability was treated the same way I have been and to ensure all my colleagues were aware of the issues and challenges that people with disabilities may face, as well as the support available to help them.

Most people with disabilities become creative problem-solvers to cope in their day-to-day lives and they often bring their out-of-the-box thinking to the workplace. They apply their unique perspective to challenges they come across to find less obvious solutions, and it usually has a positive impact on their work. An evident example is people who are neurodivergent. They tend to think differently from the rest of the population, which gives them the opportunity to look at things from a different (and valuable) perspective. The great thing about the IT industry is there are numerous career paths that really benefit from these kinds of abilities - or as I like to call them, superpowers!

Exploring workplace adjustments for everyone

One of my personal challenges was struggling to hold phone conversations in a noisy office. It was impractical to constantly remove my hearing aids to put earphones in, so CGI arranged for me to have a device that connected my hearing aids directly to my phone.  This has now been superseded by hearing aids that connect directly to my phone via bluetooth, but it was leading edge at the time!  

I was also one of the first members to trial the transcript function on Teams, which really helped when struggling to hear on Teams calls.  This assistance is now available to anyone who needs it.

Because I talk very openly about my hearing impairment, I am frequently asked to talk to other members dealing with similar situations. I like helping them to find solutions that make their experiences better too. One colleague had a manager who thought they were helping her by not inviting her to meetings as she couldn’t hear what was being said – but getting her set up with the transcript option on Teams was a much better solution!  Another was struggling with large in-person meetings, so I shared my top tip of arriving early so you can choose the optimum place to sit for the best sound.

Our inclusive approach to everything at CGI makes me really proud

I’m always proud of CGI because the company does a great job of demonstrating inclusion at all levels of our business, including our multifaceted approach to supporting members with disabilities.

We have a great ‘reasonable adjustments’ process, we run ‘KnowHow’ calls on relevant topics, we encourage staff to train as Mental Health First Aiders, and we even have our own mental health app, built in-house, for requesting support. We also have a 400+ member disability community on Teams where people can chat openly.

In addition to all of that, we’re actively recruiting members with disabilities. We feel this is such an untapped market for employers. As I mentioned, the diverse perspectives these employees bring can add so much value to our business and the work we do and we really want their skills and expertise within CGI.

Learn more about CGI’s commitment to being Unconditionally Inclusive