Embracing diversity during National Inclusion Week

In today’s rapidly evolving world, organisations and businesses across all industries are recognising the importance of fostering inclusive cultures. Inclusion goes beyond mere representation; it encompasses the fundamental belief that every individual has the right to be included regardless of their background, identity or perspective. It is about creating a workplace which embraces diversity in all its forms and harnesses the power of unique insights to grow our business going forward.

We hear from Cora Burke, who works in the Supply Chain Team as a Contracts Manager, on what Inclusion Week means to her and how KBS Maritime have supported her through the hiring and onboarding process.

Inclusion week: To Liberate the Oppressed.

Written by Cora Burke

It’s Inclusion Week.  A year or so ago I might not have got so excited about it. But it’s a new life now. I live in a post-diagnosis world.  I’m liberated.

That may strike you as a strong term to use, but when you have lived your whole life under the oppression of society’s expectations to fit in, to act normal, to be something you’re not, trust me: the validation of diagnosis is nothing short of liberation.

I’m multiply neurodivergent. Aged 52 I was diagnosed with Combined ADHD, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia, and aged 53, as being Autistic. Suddenly, the mystery of me made sense.

You’re so rude! No, I’m not. I’m autistic.  I don’t sweet-talk.  I deal in facts and get to the point quickly.

You’re so forgetful! No, I’m not. My brain can’t process voice-only information. Meet me halfway and follow-up in writing, or make a transcribed video call, and there won’t be an issue.

You’re anti-social! No, I’m not. My central nervous system is hypersensitive, and sensory stimuli like smells, sound, light, touch, taste can overwhelm me and cause physical pain, exhaustion and burn-out.

On the upside …

You’re so focussed ….Yeah. That’s called hyper-focus, or even hyper-fixation. When I’m ‘in the zone’ of what I’m doing, everything else falls away, and I completely disappear into what I’m doing.

You’re so fast …That’s a trait  of Combined ADHD.  When we’re in a good place (eat right, sleep right, feel safe), our dopamine levels balance out and we can operate at optimal levels. Our outputs in this state can seem exceptional. The trick is to manage it because if you don’t, you end up in ‘peak and trough’ territory, which leads to exhaustion and burn-out.

You spot every detail … Yep.  That’s a trait of autism. Pattern detection. We know when something is out of place or just ‘not right’, and we’ll hunt it down until we find what’s wrong.

Now to portray these traits ‘in the wild’ without diagnosis is to walk around with a ‘kick me’ target on your back.  You grow up the outcast, bullied to hell and lonely. You may or may not manage to get an education.  And when you enter the work place, the real troubles start. Sound familiar?

Well, that’s what Inclusion Week is all about.  We live in a country with laws that protect us from discrimination on grounds of disability or having long term health conditions. In the workplace that means we can ask for ‘reasonable adjustments’ to be made, both in the hiring process and once hired.

I’m an outspoken advocate for disclosing any disabilities and conditions at the earliest possible stage, to enable hirers and employers to meet their obligations under the Equality Act, and support candidates and employees to achieve their full potential in the workplace.

I know that my experience both throughout the hiring process and in my short time with KBS has been nothing short of amazing – every single adjustment requested has been met.