Meet Steve – our Disability Confident champion. Steve joined the business in Hastings back in 1989. Since then, he’s gained experience across multiple functions, been an active member of our Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging committee, and championed our commitment as a Disability Confident employer. We asked Steve some questions about his experiences as a General Dynamics UK employee. Here’s what he had to say…
Why did you join the Company?
As someone who has Cerebral Palsy and wheelchair-bound, I grew up with people telling me that I won’t be able to do everything that others can do. But, one thing that they were wrong about was computers!
I was part of a Youth Training Scheme which focused on teaching you all things hardware and software – plus general office practice. They had a link with the Company, and I was put on an accounting placement to help give me a feel for being within the workplace.
Tell us about your first experience working within the business.
Others did a six-week placement, but the Company gave me the opportunity to work half-a-day once a week, moving to a full day – followed by being offered a full-time role joining the Accounts team.
The level of trust I was given was incredible. I began the accounts assistant role working four days a week, with two days working from home – and that’s before the internet! For those wondering what that looked like, it involved adding manual paper expenses into a database which was stored on a hard drive – and I did that from home using floppy disks (that’s the 80s version of a USB flash drive).
Over the years, I moved through several roles – from in-house support, integrated logistics support, engineering process support, configuration management to supporting engineering process positions.
Tell us about your background.
As I went to a specialist school and college, I had learned to deal with different people with a range of physical and hidden disabilities. I developed a number of additional skills such as being patient, and understanding a diverse range of personalities, working styles and preferences.
This has helped me with my role on the Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging Committee. I joined to give others an insight into my personal experiences and provide suggestions which contribute towards our overall Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging strategy.
I’m proud to be part of a Company that is a Level 2 Disability Confident organisation and is aspiring to reach Level 3. It’s been a great collaborative effort from all business areas.
Advice to others with a disability that are considering applying?
A lot has changed and legislation is now available to help us get our foot in the door – giving us more opportunities. I’d tell others to take that opportunity, but then it’s all up to you.
General Dynamics UK is very supportive from application and interview, to onboarding and undertaking the tasks of the position. Everyone plays a role in making the Company culture inclusive and diverse – and they’re all very supportive to make reasonable adjustments for you.
I’d also add that we’re all ignorant of what we don’t know so I always take everything in a light hearted way. Try to be honest and open – setting expectations with your manager. All managers I’ve had have treated me the same as others – and we’ve always had a level of mutual trust.