Changing Perspectives - You should be able to bring your whole self to the office

22 August 2023
Jess Craig

The MFA DE&I Council would like to see an industry where everyone can thrive, feel heard, supported, and safe to do their best work. Let’s meet the Changers who are sharing their own lived experienceto inspire us all to change for the better.

My name is Jess Cragg, SEO & CRO executive, avid reader of 28 books so far this year and lover of espresso martinis and large soy cappuccinos. I also happen to live with a disability.

Can you describe any challenges you encountered in the industry and how you were able to overcome them?

I started living with a disability while studying for my degree. This gave me a bit of time to consider how I was going to approach the job market. I really didn’t like the idea of having to only bring a part of me to the office, and in the long run it just wasn’t going to work if I had a seizure or experienced more health scares with my autoimmune diseases. 

Attending networking during this time, I quizzed representatives on what their disability policies were like, and resoundingly there seemed to be a “what policies?” response, or in the most honest cases, full-on admission that they were poor. 

My disabilities weren’t visible, but what if I had needed wheelchair access? Altered seating? A screen reader? Would there be easily accessible policies in place for companies to go to if they had found the perfect candidate and needed those things? It was beginning to dawn on me that the industry was maybe not at that stage. 

Oh dear, I thought. This was not ideal. I put that I was a disability advocate on my resume straight up, hoping companies that didn’t want to put in the effort would discard it, but also in defiance of the idea that since I could potentially hide it, I should. People I knew were encouraging me to go down that route of keeping my disability to myself, but I vehemently refused.

The result? A company that cares and progress in disability policy. Me participating in a panel discussion to help launch a disability plan, despite being someone who starts sweating at the idea of having to answer an unknown phone number. People asking questions and people listening. 

Be part of the change

If someone living with a disability does decide to make their voice heard, listen.

It’s scary, you are revealing a part of yourself. Before that panel, I was petrified no one would want to listen, but seeing my agency filter into the room absolutely strengthened me. 

But while conversations are critical, you can also do your own research. You may know someone living with a disability and want to understand or know more, but please do not designate them as your only source of information.

Since I have obviously revealed myself as a book nerd in my intro, I can recommend Growing Up Disabled in Australia as a great starter for getting a wide range of perspectives. 

Jess Cragg is an SEO & CRO Executive at Wavemaker

To broaden your understanding of DE&I, complete the SBS Core Inclusion course – Australia’s leading online DE&I training course – available for free to MFA member employees. Access ends December 2023.

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