National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Rebecca Najnar shares her #TeamBell story
I developed agoraphobia at the age of 23. Suddenly unable to leave the safety of my home derailed my education, my career, and my entire life. While I have made great strides over the past few years, there are still many things I struggle with.
The key message I want to share with my team members and the public is twofold. Firstly, disability is not always visible. It is not apparent by looking or speaking to me that I am a person with a disability. Unless I disclose it, my leaders and coworkers would never know. Even when I do disclose, I am sometimes met with doubt or discomfort. This brings me to my second message; workplaces should strive to ensure that employees who do disclose disabilities are accommodated, respected, and included.
In terms of my journey working at Bell, I am a relatively new employee. I started in January of 2023 working at the Source Support Center in Barrie as a Human Resources Associate. I had not disclosed my disability during the interview process but made sure to ask whether the role required traveling to retail stores and was told it did not. Being that the office is a three-minute commute from my home, I chose not to disclose when I was given an offer.
I was fortunate that both leaders were open to accommodating me and showed me a lot of respect and grace during our conversations. They were supportive and communicated that I would not be expected to go to Creekbank or anywhere besides my home location.
The reality is that I may go my entire career at Bell without ever being able to visit another campus. Of course, I hope that’s not the case and that it’s something I can towards. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can join meetings remotely or meet my colleagues at other locations virtually.
Do I believe that my disability will have an impact on my performance and opportunities at Bell? At this time, I’m not sure. Career progression typically involves visibility and flexibility, which are two things I don’t have the capacity for at this point. But I am hard-working and resourceful. I will find other ways to elevate myself in the workplace.
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