Global Dyslexia Summit 2019

Dyslexic thinkers are often able to see connections that others may miss, and create narratives that can simplify complex products or tasks. 
For organisations to successfully adapt, thrive and access these dyslexic strengths, there needs to be support for and celebration of a change and growth mindset. This mindset is a skill in itself and can often be more important than specific areas of experience. This, coupled with diversity and inclusion, is key to future success. 
Steve Hatch, VP Northern Europe, Facebook 
Last week I attended the Made By Dyslexia Global Summit and what a night it was. Robyn Curnow, CNN International News Anchor, Dyslexic, and mum to a dyslexic was a fantastic MC chairing the panels and keeping the energy going.
It was fitting to host it at the Science Museum – a tribute to how different thinkers have shaped the modern world. From lightbulbs (Thomas Edison) and telephones (Alexander Graham Bell) to cars (Ford) and smartphones (Steve Jobs). Fitting that GCHQ has an exhibit there too: their chief spy was on the summit panel explain how different thinks have been keeping the country safe for 100 years.

The Imaginers

Dyslexics are known for thinking big – and you can’t get much bigger than space. Richard Branson was larger than life (literally) on the big screen with Maggie Aderin-Pocock (dyslexic space scientist) and David Spear (Dyslexic future Virgin Galactic Astronaut). These are great minds that have succeeded in spite of a school system that is not friendly to different thinkers.  Their early challenges equipped them with the tenacity and drive to make a difference. Crazy dreams are still shaping the world – what if space travel was as cheap as a trans-Atlantic flight?
Always keen to be disruptive Richard has instructed his Virgin empire to stop asking for exam results when recruiting. Exam results are a poor measure of the skills that future business needs and may in fact screen out those, like him, that can think big and make a difference.

Rt Hn Matt Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Matt is an MP #MadeByDyslexia He only came out last year. He chose to hide his dyslexia for many years. Now he wants to use his position of privilege to help create an environment where others are happy to be open about their dyslexia. He shared that he is working on a couple of other cabinet members who have privately shared their dyslexia. I’ve blogged before on the dynamics as of coming out with a hidden disability. The challenges cannot be overstated. If the political elite fears to disclose their dyslexia it is no surprise there are people in all walks of life struggling in jobs because they don’t want to come out – even if that might mean they get the help they need to play to their strengths.

The Game Changers

Forward thinkers welcoming dyslexic strengths in business made this panel. Richard Addison from EY and part of the Value of Dyslexia report team, Jeremy Flemming Director of GCHQ, Laura Powel head of HR for HSBC, Nick Jones founder of Soho House, and Steve Hatch VP of Facebook Northern Europe. They all had a take on how different thinkers have been integral to their success or will be pivotal going forward. With the right mix of minds, anything is possible.
If a business wants to benefit from the neurodivergent talent pool, they need to change their recruitment processes to focus on the attitude and aptitude of the candidates rather than exam results. Passion and drive are more important than certificates and qualifications. With AI threatening to bring transformational shits to business the skills many dyslexics struggle with will be jobs done by computers. The dyslexic strengths will be able to flourish and become a massive business advantage. Jeremy reported that GCHQ is talent scouting early with cyber summer schools and apprentice schemes. These recruitment pipelines are recruiting dyslexics at 3-4 times the national average. This is not because they want a badge for corporate social responsibility, but because these different thinkers have the skills the business needs.
It is clearly a great time to be dyslexic. So it was back to the ground with a bump for the next panel…

The Change Makers

While the future might be bright, the present is challenging. Schools do not have the resources to support dyslexic children. Dyslexic children represent the vast majority of SEND pupils, and there is not the budget to support them. A traditional exam-based school system is disadvantaging pupils and writing some of them off before they have the chance to demonstrate what they can do.
Exams need conformity, but that is no longer what business is looking for, so the system needs to change.

The “Live” Stream

The event was streamed live and the video is now on You Tube for those that didn’t catch it in real time.

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