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Developing, supporting, promoting leaders with disabilities

Check Your Online Presence

Have you checked your online presence recently? Today we are all very connected to various social media channels, personal websites, and even searchable portfolios of mentions and articles.

Yet, somehow, many disability leaders are quite hard to find on the internet, including many Disability Leadership Institute members and National Register listers.

If you are hoping to find the right board opportunity, regular consulting work, or if you are currently seeking formal employment then it’s vital that you can be found through a google or LinkedIn search.

There is a strong presence of people with disabilities in social areas like Facebook, but very few have a strong profile or professional presence that can be used by prospective employers who want to know more about your work history, connections, or public profile. Why should you be employed as a conference MC, or a workshop facilitator? If no one can find you then they won’t employ you and you’ll keep waiting. Some people use Facebook for their personal website or landing page, so make sure it reflects your professional persona and not your social life if you are relying on it for this purpose.

If you don’t have a personal website or formal business, then the only real option is to have an up to date LinkedIn profile. Then you can be found and your information shared easily.

Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. It is the most common search vehicle for finding professionals. Target your profile to the type of work you are currently seeking, you don’t have to tell your life story, or have a biography that covers every detail, focus on the relevant elements to the work you are looking for now. Even when you are not currently looking for opportunities your profile is a good way to keep you at the front of people’s minds for when the right type of opportunity comes along. You never know what’s out there and what might come your way.

Of course you also need to check in regularly, just like other social media, because if someone messages you they won’t wait forever for a reply. You are one of hundreds of qualified people and everyone else is actively promoting themselves. Unless you do the same you will be waiting a long time.

Regardless of the platform you prefer for your online presence you must keep it updated and refreshed regularly. If it looks old and stale then it’s clear you aren’t “out there” actively. This rapidly becomes a statement about the kind of person you are and the level of engagement that can be expected from you.

If we want to see more disability leaders appointed across all fields then we need to be present in the mainstream market places that are used to find the right people. Get your profile up to date today!

 

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Diversity through an intersectional approach

Approaching diversity through the prism of intersectionality assists us with bringing different population groups into our recruitment processes without tackling them one by one. It recognises that all diversity groups are present right across our population.

 

new article from Christina Ryan on LinkedIn. Read the full article

 

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Annual survey of disability leaders

The Disability Leadership Institute first undertook a national survey of disability leaders in 2016. That survey was highly successful and showed how important it is to continue to better understand the experiences of disability leaders. The survey is now an annual event and the 2017 survey has just been launched. You are invited to contribute your own leadership experiences, aspirations and understanding, or to share the survey with disability leaders in your networks.

 

Contributions to the survey are confidential and deidentified.

 

This year the survey looks at:

– experiences of leadership,

– types of training and development,

– how training and support has contributed to leadership, and

– what barriers have been encountered.

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3HS99NX

 

You are welcome to circulate this survey to other Australian disability leaders and emerging leaders that you know.

 

The survey will remain open until midnight Monday 31 July 2017.

 

 

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Where are disability leaders in the media?

How often do we see people with disabilities in the media? Rarely.

 

How often do we see people with disabilities in the media as an expert talking about something that isn’t their disability? Almost never.

 

This is just one area of absence for disability leadership but it’s a key one. The lack of media visibility for disability leaders reinforces the public perception that we aren’t experts, and that we have no interests outside our own disability.

 

Yet as disability leaders we know that we have many interests, and areas of professional and personal expertise. While it will take substantial culture shift to address the assumption that we have no other interests this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be prepared to talk to the media when an opportunity arises.

 

Talking to media is simply a skill that can be learned, like any other. Like any skill it takes time and practice and a bit of commitment, but it’s not rocket science. Of course, you don’t have to do it, but it can be very useful to know how to get your message across when needed.

 

One day 20 per cent of experts in the media will be people with disabilities. Across all fields and programs. It won’t be unusual to see someone with disability talking about their latest academic study, or representing a global corporation. Our personal stories won’t be demanded by journalists because they think we have nothing else to talk about and it’s the most interesting thing about us. We will be seen as opinion setters, experts, valuable analysts.

 

In today’s social media world our ability to jump in and share our opinion is vital, otherwise we will remain invisible. Once we do that we start to build our profiles as experts and opinion setters, but what happens after that? Are you ready to speak publicly?

 

The next DLI webinar is a skill building one to assist you to be confident in Talking to Media. The webinar includes some basic skills, and tips and tricks to hone your message and get it across. No previous experience is required; we all have to start somewhere. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your field is, if you hate talking publicly or have a communication barrier, or whether you do media a lot or rarely, being prepared to speak about your opinion or your work is important. Join us on 30 June.

 

 

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Networking is different for disability leaders

Networking is a key element of leadership work and produces many of the opportunities that we all want to take up, so it’s a vital skill and ability for all of us to be engaged in.

 

Many leadership opportunities arise because someone knows someone and the network circles around to you. If you aren’t part of those networks then you are significantly disadvantaged.

 

Networking can be different for people with disabilities and the DLI 2016 survey of leaders illustrated a number of barriers to networking that we face, for example:

 

– the costs associated with attending

– the extra hours and energy needed – many events happen after hours

– being in the mainstream / prejudice

– crowds, noise.

 

These are just some of the issues raised as barriers to being in the room and being able to network effectively.

 

There are now a number of apps that scan business cards to assist leaders who need alternative formats or who can’t carry cards, but not all are suitable for the needs of leaders with disabilities, so don’t assume technology solves everything.

 

The cost of networking is a distinct barrier that is very difficult to overcome. If you can’t afford to be in the room, regularly, then you won’t get to meet the people that you need to meet. People quickly forget someone that isn’t seen often, and that means they forget that you might be a suitable candidate for something. While online social networking does assist in some ways, it simply doesn’t replace being in the room and meeting people.

 

Above all, networking is something you get better at with practice. So, barriers experienced by leaders with disabilities must be addressed so that we can get the practice, and through that get the opportunities that networking provides.

 

 

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Mainstreaming it

The 2016 survey of disability leaders found that most leaders with disabilities are operating in disability specific places not in the mainstream.

 

What’s behind this? Is the mainstream unwelcoming, or perhaps it’s not interested in disability. Maybe it’s just inaccessible. Is it easier to get employment in disability specific fields? Whatever the reason, the few leaders who do work in the mainstream said that they feel very isolated and are constantly battling to be respected and included.

 

Working in the mainstream confronts all the prejudices and access barriers that people with disabilities face every day. It forces people to accept you, but to also consider how disability is relevant to whatever the mainstream area is. You are also more likely to be an expert or specialist in your field, so people will need to adjust how they respond to you. Being the only person with disability in a room can be exhausting, but it is also the place where change happens.

 

Leaders working in the mainstream have told us many stories over the years including:

 

– being treated like the work experience kid

– having your disability being the only topic of conversation

– getting stuck in a crowded room and unable to move

– general inaccessibility preventing meaningful participation

– doubting your non-disability expertise

 

These are just some examples of the barriers faced by leaders working in the mainstream. It can take a strong stomach and real persistence to continue to operate in such environments, but the outcomes are valuable and often make real change for our community.

 

Our next webinar, Mainstreaming – being in the room, is looking at how to work in the mainstream effectively and with confidence. We’ll examine how you can get the most out of being the only person with disability in the room and how to use your presence to get strong disability outcomes.

 

The webinar will cover:

– Being in the room.

– Key principles to being in the mainstream

– How to communicate

– What to communicate

– Why are you in the room?

– Making sure you stay in the room.

– Using your presence to increase the representation of people with disabilities

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

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