Link December 2018 Volume 27 Issue 6 - Page 44

employment Leaders’ register C hristina Ryan established the Disability Leadership Institute two years ago to develop, support and promote leaders with disabilities. The Institute has now established Australia’s first National Register of Disability Leaders. Christina (pictured left) said the register Mal said being a business owner with disability also came with its share of positives and challenges. “On a practical level, due to my disability, I spend about two to three hours extra per day just doing the simple things like getting dressed, showering and toileting,” he said. “That time would eat into my offers a single portal for companies or sleep time, especially when travelling. agencies wishing to engage C-suite expertise, Long days of early mornings, then the find a new board member, engage a invites to socialise would often mean conference speaker, or locate a media expert. I was getting by with three or four “The register is open to all companies and agencies wishing to improve hours’ sleep. “Of course, the practicalities of their diversity,” Christina said. “The idea behind it is similar to other registers that have existed for setting up before training sessions, women, when companies were trying to boost gender equality and find carting gear from car to rooms, qualified women to appoint to boards,” she said. making sure access was adequate, “I realised there was nothing available in the disability space to do this. and booking appropriate hotels, At the same time, there were a remarkably large number of people saying all add another dimension to they couldn’t find anyone with disability with the right experience for their our lives. I am fortunate to work board or management team. within an industry that deals with “I just thought, ‘this is ridiculous’, because there are so many people wheelchair users all the time so this helped overcome some of the out there.” Christina said not only does the register make a statement that there are in fact leaders with disability, but the register is growing in size all the time. “We’ve got several people being added each week,” she said. “We’ve got people in every state and territory of Australia and across all fields, from corporate and government, to IT, law, academia and the arts. “The fact people can’t find a disability leader is more a reflection negative stereotypes that others may encounter in other industries. “I have found that being a wheelchair user, as well as a user of products we represented, has been a great thing. This has helped on them than it is on the fact there are no disability leaders to be had – me understand the ‘ins and outs’ because clearly there are disability leaders to be had!” of products and why things an able-bodied person may think are small are actually a big deal. I have also felt like I have been in “I thrived on developing a culture, 44 “On the other hand, the constant tune with other end users, their on seeing staff grow in skills and decision making is relentless, needs, and what products meet confidence, on making decisions, travelling is tiring; there’s worry about their needs. It also means that I developing strategies, having input competition and finances, extremely have been able to talk passionately into product developments, securing long hours, and supporting and being about products that truly have deals, seeing risk pay off, being able there for staff through hard times. changed my life for the better.” to be flexible with work hours, and So, it was a love-hate kind of thing, travelling,” he said. but much more love than hate!” employment