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Dyslexia: Hidden talents in the workplace

Sepulveda, Poliana (2018) Dyslexia: Hidden talents in the workplace. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The purpose of this PhD research was to apply the principles of Positive Dyslexia to the current status of dyslexia in the workplace, with the long-term aim of creating tools to enable companies to become dyslexia friendly. Positive Dyslexia, according to Nicolson (2015), has the main aim of allowing dyslexic people to find their strengths, to craft their lives according to these strengths and thus to exploit the possibilities that these can bring to their own lives, and for the advantage of others. Four studies are presented within this thesis. Taking as starting point the “Dyslexia Decathlon”, developed by two qualitative studies from S. Agahi et al. (2014) is a set of ten skills that were found to be characteristic in those with dyslexia. These ten skills were divided into three pillars (social, cognitive and work strengths) which were all underpinned by the capacity for unconventional thinking. The social pillar includes traits such as teamwork, empathy and communication; The Mental pillar is composed by innovation/creativity, visuo-spatial and big-picture thinking and the work pillar determination and resilience, proactivity and flexible coping. The empirical work undertaken for the assessment of the dyslexia decathlon used a sampling of successful dyslexic adults and entrepreneurs. Therefore one of the aims of this thesis was to establish whether the skills identified for the dyslexia decathlon skills also can be understood to be present at an earlier age or not. The findings were followed up, in order to develop principles that would allow companies to “talent manage” their dyslexic employees. Study 1 was undertaken with 251 non-dyslexic students and 70 dyslexic students, all from the University of Sheffield. The findings from this study revealed that dyslexic students showed significantly higher entrepreneurial intentions and traits when compared with the non-dyslexic student sample, together with a range of significant differences in parts of the Dyslexia Decathlon. Study 2 aimed to address the limitations present in Study 1, by using a qualitative approach to understand discrepancies in the finding associated with the themes of Resilience, Big Picture Thinking, Visual Spatial and Communication skills. The findings demonstrated that although dyslexic individuals have strong qualities and traits, such as the capacity for creativity, determination, resilience, persistence, strong communication skills and empathy (Eide & Eide, 2012; West, 2009), these four variables were also found to be underdeveloped in some aspects, hence the reason for some of the discrepancies expressed in the variables of Study 1. Therefore, there is a constant need for development in order for individuals with dyslexia to excel to their highest potential and advantage. Studies 3 and 4 changed focus to dyslexia in the workplace, and were designed to investigate the current approaches taken in Brazil and in the UK. Despite the ex nsive findings of strengths in dyslexia, it appears that companies are still greatly lacking in their knowledge of Positive Dyslexia, and in particular the potential benefits of “talent managing” their dyslexic employees. Study 3 assessed companies’ perspectives and attitudes towards dyslexic candidates and employees. Senior and high-level personnel from SME to multinationals were interviewed in Brazil and in the U.K. An overall lack of awareness about Positive Dyslexia was identified within the workplace, whilst a reasonable knowledge of the conventional definition of dyslexia was apparent in the sample group used from the U.K. In the Brazilian sample, both the overall awareness about dyslexia and any specific knowledge about Positive Dyslexia knowledge was non-existent. In Study 4, a quantitative research study was carried out to understand the perspective of dyslexic employees as to disclosure of their dyslexia in the workplace. The major result was that of the identification of a positive significant relationship between a company’s senior executive’s disclosure of dyslexia and the acceptability from younger dyslexic individuals to follow suit. In summary, all of the studies show clear implications for the dyslexic employee’s lifetime in a company, from appointment to talent management.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Psychology (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Poliana Sepulveda
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2018 08:49
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2018 08:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22029

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