The 2020 cohort celebrated their graduation from the Talent Development Program during Disability History Month.
The Caliber Leadership Program was designed to address the unique challenges faced by staff with disabilities in higher education, helping them develop leadership skills so they can thrive in a variety of positions. While the program took a little longer this year due to the online move, the cohort of eight recently graduated in an online ceremony.
Below, we chat with two of this year’s attendees, who share their reasons for participating in Caliber and how they think it’s been beneficial for them and their careers at Imperial.
“Caliber gave me the confidence to confide in my manager”
John Field, Director of Fire Safety, Estates Division: “I signed up for Caliber for several reasons. First of all, I think it’s always worth taking all the training opportunities out there – you never have enough tools in your toolbox. And also, as a manager, I wanted to try the program for myself before considering recommending it to any of my employees. I suffer from anxiety and depression, caused in large part by significant changes in my personal life, and I was wondering if the program could help me.
“The sessions we had together were amazing, not only for what we learned, but also because the group was a safe space where people could share their stories and experiences. I learned a lot from hearing from other people and being able to share my own story has given me confidence and encouragement.
“Being a part of Caliber gave me the confidence to talk to my manager about the issues I was having, and I was able to get the support I needed.
“I have taken EDI training in the past, but I would recommend all managers to take the Caliber course as it will give you the best possible insight into the barriers that staff with disabilities face in the workplace. It provides you with the tools to help and support staff members appropriately; I feel like I can better understand the issues people may be facing and communicate better with people. “
“I learned that I was not isolated”
Dez Mendoza, Library Assistant, Library Services: “I started at Imperial in March 2019 and in January of this year I was still on extended probation as issues with getting the right support for my disabilities had hampered my progress. I decided to participate in Caliber to understand the barriers that seemed to stand in my way.
“At the time, I was still waiting for an official autism diagnosis, and although I disclosed that I had a disability when I joined college, there was little awareness of the impact it could have. on my work.
“Probationers are in a precarious position because they do not yet have an open-ended (or fixed-term) contract, so it can be difficult to overcome these obstacles. public; the agency should always remain with the person with a disability as to when or to whom they choose to disclose.
“Through Caliber, I learned about the social and medical models of disability, how I am supported by the law, and what I should ask for to support me at work. I also learned that I was not isolated – c It was extremely helpful to have people I could relate to who had been through similar situations.
“Probation procedures and assessment criteria can inhibit people with disabilities or neurodivergent, as they tend to be based on a neuro-normative framework. Environmental factors can also create barriers, especially when it comes to sensitivities. sensory processing that can affect people with autism.
“For my Caliber project, I used my personal experience of the probation process as a case study, reflecting on what can be learned to ensure that neurodivergent staff are appropriately supported in a way that engenders d ‘excellent performance I examined how using the social model of disability and empowering a neurodivergent employee by developing their leadership skills can influence a positive outcome for all.
Watch an introductory video to the Caliber Leadership Program: