In our latest guest blog, new BDF Board Member Hari Sundaresan talks about his experience of revealing his disability to his colleagues and helping to maintain an open culture around disability at BT.
I started out as a graduate scientist at Adastral and have enjoyed some very interesting jobs. But for years I hid the fact I had a specific vision-related condition. It hasn’t held me back but I was often worried that it would make a difference if people found out, and not in a good way.
Then, in a team meeting a few years ago, I had no choice but to share the thing I had always felt embarrassed about. Picture the scene. My team are showing me a slide as part of a project status update…
‘Hari, you don’t seem very worried about the status of these projects?’
‘Why would I be? They are mostly green aren’t they?’
‘No! They are mostly red!’
‘Ah…then there is something I need to tell you.’
It was out. I had to admit to being colour blind for the first time in my career. People knowing isn’t a big deal these days; but it used to be a big deal for me. Now I tell everyone who I am working with, to write the words ‘Red’, Amber’ and ‘Green’ and not just rely on colours to tell me the status of their project. It works fine.
I guess this was the day I was my “whole” self at work and by being so my colleagues and I both adjusted so that we get the job done. It made me feel so much better about the whole business of having a visual condition.
This is one of the reasons I became BT’s Disability Champion.
To me this means I can personally influence BT’s journey to becoming a company who is really confident with disability:
- I want everyone to get that difference is just part of life and we are so much better for it
- I want us all to feel we can be our whole selves at work and that we are much more likely to succeed if we are
- I want us all to get the adjustments we need to do our jobs well and that most of the time it’s going to be something pretty quick and simple
- I want to carry on talking about disability at BT, and I want everyone to hear it, so please join in and help me share the conversation.
It’s a journey I’m now keen to influence on an even larger scale as a board member of BDF. It feels like there’s a lot more work to be done and I’m looking forward to a busy and exciting 2017!