By Taryn Lagonigro
Picture this: You're a manager deciding between two employees for a promotion. On paper, both employees are equally qualified. Their tenure, skillset and management style are virtually the same. But employee A was unexpectedly out for a week during busy season last year because her child with a disability was in the hospital. Plus she leaves early every other Tuesday for her daughter's therapy. Her work always gets done, but the unpredictability makes you go with employee B. You justify it because you also imagine that employee A probably doesn't want the promotion anyway - she's got enough on her plate.
Unfortunately, we know this scenario plays out in many different forms every day. Maybe it's being passed over for a promotion, or maybe it's being pushed out so they don't have to fire you, or maybe it's not being hired at all.
While there may be some extra logistics that a working parent of a child with a disability has to juggle, we also think that this is a tenacious employee who will go the extra mile for your company. Here's five reasons why a parent of a child with a disability is NOT an employee to pass over:
1) Time Management Skills - let's face it, the parent of a child with a disability is used to juggling A LOT. Appointments, therapies, IEP meetings, medicines, etc. It's likely that this is an employee who will know how to prioritize and be efficient. While he or she may need to work around appointments from time to time, work with them to ensure the job gets done to expectations.
2) Dedication - this employee's why is probably so important. This isn't someone who will be careless with their job. If they are taking time away from their family, their reasons mean that they will be a dedicated employee to make sure they are doing the best they can for their company so that they can keep giving the best back to their family.
3) Resiliency - it's likely that this employee has, is and will go through some pretty stressful things. The day to day stress of a job is not likely to fluster he or she, because they know what truly matters in life. Not that you should pile the stress on them, but know that they can handle high pressure situations that may come.
4) Inclusion & diversity - this employee will bring so much to the table with their disability experience and help to create better inclusion and diversity through knowledge. Invite them to share about their experiences to help people better learn about the diverse world around them!
5) Empathy - you're likely employing someone who will be an empathetic peer and/or manager because of the many things they may have been through in life. This can help to create a better culture in the workplace as he or she manages a team or works with others.
Aside from these reasons, we think that the most important thing you can do when hiring or managing an employee is to communicate expectations in a constructive way with open dialogue. Maybe he or she actually doesn't want to take on that promotion at this moment, but it should never be assumed. Take time to discuss their career goals and derive a plan that works for everyone.