“Those with sight are sometimes the most blind of all”
National Federation of the Blind
That is, of course, a blanket statement and needs to be clarified. There are certain individuals and companies out there who don’t care about someone being disabled, if they know their stuff…then they hire them. But there are the majority, probably upwards of 98% who don’t even want to talk to them, despite what they publicly advocate and say they believe in inclusion & diversity…of all kinds.
Since this is a security blog I will concentrate on this industry and equate it to all others. Tell me and all disabled people who want to work for you, honestly that we don’t discriminate against anyone who is qualified to do the job? You can’t honestly tell me that we don’t…because I know better and I’ve done it myself.
Take me for an example. When I first went blind I started my own company doing what I did best…training people in how to prevent workplace violence. I had been training and managing people for more than 20 years at that point. A company would call me, or I would cold call them, and they would be hyper to get me in to train their employees.
Hyper? Most of the time they wanted me in to train a week before, figuratively, I called them! I arrive for an appointment that should take about an hour maybe two. Within 10 minutes I was rushed out the door after they took one look at my white cane.
This has occurred on more than one occasion over the ensuing years. To make the frustration worse, no one has ever complained about my style of training or the material I present to them. Apparently going blind made me stupid. Would have thought that blindness affects thought processes as well.
It should be fairly obvious that I can’t talk or even have good thought processes to help protect people. It’s funny then about all the great comments I get from my blog postings. They love my quirky, innovative, and unique ideas that I propose but the industry is saturated with great people who can actually see… which makes me easy to ignore.
“We need you to get around and go to client sites at a moment’s notice”, and the issue with that is? Do you not pay your managers a expense for using their own vehicle? Then why can’t I call a cab to take me around to various clients? I can get vouchers that are cheaper to use and you would reimburse me as well for the expense. For that I get no answer except what sounds like harrumph.
I had an interview for an Assistant Director of Security position. I met all the job requirements and was willing to do for a national security company. I was scheduled to meet with the branch manager; instead I had to meet with the Business Development Manager, who had no clue how to interview… or me. She wanted me to tell her about myself and my experience. Typical, right?
I started telling her about my blogs and my way of doing…for 10 seconds. She then succinctly said “I don’t care about what you did in the past. I don’t care about writing and how intelligent it is. I want to know about something recent.” When I couldn’t instantly, no joke… less than 5 seconds, offer anything… “Okay I’ll have the branch manager call you later. Goodbye” she then proceeded to walk at a normal pace and expressed exasperation that I wasn’t moving fast enough through a maze of offices I’d never visited.
You can’t tell me that the security industry doesn’t discriminate against people that are disabled? I know they do. But overall businesses also discriminates along racial, gender, and religious grounds. But it is done in such a way that no one can ever claim discrimination. Sometimes the discriminatory practices creep in over time and you don’t even notice them.
How you ask? The application of course. If they don’t like your skin, beard, accent, or anything else your application will probably be round filed in #13 and no one will ever know. If for some reason you get past the application phase and get an interview…then it will probably be short, sweet, and accompanied by a no thanks don’t call us we’ll call you.
Are there other jobs at these companies you can do until you acclimate and learn the system so you can work at the job you wanted? Generally speaking, of course there are. But the immediate answer for 99.9% of all disabled job applicants…can’t, more than likely won’t, hire you right now. Mainly, the recruiter/HR doesn’t want to look deeper or make an adjustment to the company structure to allow for the disability.
I know that this post sounds awfully angry and pessimistic which is not necessarily a bad thing…representing the frustration we feel. I’m upset and angry for the people I know who want to work and can’t find it. They are wonderful men and women who want to support their families and themselves to be independent. Unfortunately fate has dealt them a poker hand they can’t possibly win with, and the next player is stealing their chips.
Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of workplace violence as well as other security/customer service related issues with time tested and proven ideas. You can follow him on his Facebook page, facebook.com/oneistooomany, or twitter@robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear