Strengths beyond my disability

Claudia Dietze, Germany

Intern, Learning and Development, EY EMEIA

In December, we mark International Day of People with Disabilities, a day where we celebrate the contributions and achievements of those who have visible and non-visible disabilities. We sat down with Claudia to talk more about her disability, her journey to EY and how EY has supported her to get to where she is today.

Tell me a bit more about yourself - your journey to EY, what you do and your disability.

I joined EY a few weeks ago as an intern for the Learning and Development section. I am part of the Talent Team here in Germany and currently I am working on the technical learnings for Advisory. I see approximately 2%, so, I am blind. Therefore, I work with a program that provides speech output (screen reader) and enables me to “see” screen content and work with my computer.

Tell me more about the Visual recruitment workshop that you attended in Germany. What did you get out of it?

I joined the “Blind in Business”-workshop in September. When reading the introduction to this workshop I was very interested in getting involved. The fact that they would check our applications and CV’s was very helpful and I was interested in learning more about working at EY – a company which offers that kind of workshop and therefore obviously won´t reduce me to my disability. Before I was applying for internships but I never got positive responses or jobs out of them. So, first I thought it was because of my CV or how I introduce myself and my blindness. It was great that this workshop gave me the opportunity to go through my CV and application approaches with someone. The other thing that attracted me to this workshop was that they offered to show us what working at EY looks like and what EY can do to support us and to help us get a job or internship at EY. I am so glad I went to this workshop. It was very positive and I am so happy to get the opportunity to apply for EY after the workshop and be successful.

How does EY and your team support you in your role? How do they acknowledge your disability and how do they support you to allow you to do the best you can possible do in your role?

They are very open minded. My team ask a lot of questions, like how they can help me which is very helpful because every blind person is an individual like anyone else, there are things we can and can’t do and that are not the same things for each blind person. Also, I have the opportunity to ask my colleagues to review my work sometimes which is very re-assuring for me. And it’s not because of the content as such, but to help me with the objects or pictures that are not readable. I currently use a program which reads out aloud what I write so that I can review it, however sometimes it skips things. To have the support from my team for this is very helpful. They also help me with finding things that I cannot and they ask me to join them when they go get a coffee, for lunch or to have a conversation. Not everything is easy for me to do by myself. I cannot work with every technical item within EY, because some have touchscreens and I cannot read what the buttons say or guess the buttons at all. For example the lifts, I can select which level I want to go to, however I cannot see which lift to enter because this information is just shown on a screen. I also cannot see the floor number in the elevator, so I need to ask for that, too, or just try to guess by counting the seconds.

What strengths does your disability bring to your role?

My vision began to deteriorate rapidly around the age of 18. That's why I used to know how things look like and so on. In my opinion, one important strength that my disability gives me is that I am now more focused on what people say and how they say it. Not just the factual parts but also the emotional parts. I can be objective. I try to listen carefully and decide what to do by concentrating on their voice, their emotion and the way they talk to me. That is definitely a strength that my disability gives me. Being blind develops a different type of self-confidence within you. I think it is very important for me to believe in myself, especially in my skills. It is important for me to know that my skills and my work is appreciated by my team which is exactly what is happening so far. My disability is a part of who I am, but it is what I do that actually matters and how I apply myself to my job. Here they don’t want to know how I do things without my eyesight, they just ask me whether I can do something.

What’s your advice for someone who is applying to EY and has a disability?

My advice to someone who is applying to EY, and has a disability, would be to make sure you are open minded. Be transparent and say what you can and cannot do. Especially in regards to what you need in order to actually perform your role. For instance, I need a screen reader for sure to help me read emails and documents online. So when I sat down with my team I went over what I need and what I already have/can access. It’s really important to be transparent about the steps you need to take, for instance the pre-work like applying for technical aids, soft and hardware.