Impact on career choices and progression
A disability or long term condition might affect a person’s working career in many ways. There are the indirect consequences included the personal and emotional affects that people experienced in relation to their condition or disability in the workplace. Some people told us about the concerns they had regarding the reactions and judgments of others to their condition or disability, and that this could affect how and when they talk about their disability with an employer (see also Disclosure). Finding the right role, one that brings out the skills and abilities of a person has been key to not only remaining in work, but having a fulfilling career. And others have had to make significant changes to their working practices, their role or even career, which many expect to continue into the future.
The impact on career choices or progression can come through small or indirect ways that a condition or disability affects a person's life. This can include how confident people feel in particular circumstances, or the way that some changes have implicit consequences. For example, Jan gave up driving after being diagnosed with epilepsy, which she says has "kind of affected my independence".
Making big changes
Some of the people we spoke to told us how their condition or disability had, one way or another, had a profound impact upon their role or career. As Sue explained, at one workplace there was no possibility of being provided with a chair that would prevent the back pain she was experiencing. In the end, she said "I couldn't continue to manage the pain levels without doing something drastic. So I ended up leaving that job."
Milembe explained that before being diagnosed with cancer she was very busy with a full-time job, her part-time studies, and raising two children. She explained that this level of activity was not something she could return to saying, there is only "so much someone can do in 24 hours". Reducing her working hours was therefore a significant change to Milembe's life.
Finding the right role
For a number of people we spoke to they explained how important it was to have found a role that made the most of their skills or abilities or that could accommodate the needs of their condition or disability. In some cases moving to such a role meant a significant shift in career or field of interest. Others noted how finding such a position enabled them to progress their career.
Finding the right role was not always easy or possible.
A number of people we spoke to reflected upon how their past experiences of condition or disability – and the changes they had made to their lives or would need – might affect their careers in the future. As Jo Z explained, "If I decided to look for another post within the university, I think I would think twice about where I would apply. Because I would want to be sure I would get the same level of support".