Real-life stories

Jon Prashar – Group Head of Diversity Marketing

Employee Jon Prashar
Job Group Head of Diversity Marketing
Sector Place making and property management
Company Places for People, York
I think that diversity brings different elements of humanity into the business - just makes it all more real and interesting. It brings another dimension to the workplace.

Jon Prashar travels all around the UK visiting the different offices of Places for People, a property management and development company, and its partners. He loves the range of his job: “The variety of the issues and the variety of people I’m working with. It can be someone who mends boilers for a living one day and the chief executive the next.”

Jon advises and guides the company on diversity – “Whether that’s about improving the flexibility of products and services, how we communicate with customers, or who we employ and what we do with them.” He needs to change how other teams work across the business, which requires excellent relationship-building and influencing skills. “I try to meet with people face to face – that’s the way to get the message across.”

Jon is registered blind and has some specialist equipment to support him in his role, but what really matters is being flexible and positive: “I’ve found people’s attitude and can-do approach to stuff brilliant. Any problems you’ve got just get overcome.”

Employer’s story

Sarah Salter, Group Head of HR, says they look at each person as an individual: “We employ the most suitable person for the job. We make sure we can accommodate disabilities within the context of the work. The principle is about inclusion – you work with the person and their needs.”

Like Jon, Sarah believes that attitude is everything: “We look at each scenario on its merits. It’s better to look at what you can do rather than what you can’t do.”

Best practice

Places for People follows good practice – for example, everyone who applies for a job is asked whether they need special arrangements for the interview. But Sarah says that they are not overloaded with wordy policies and procedures: “Rather than having specific policies, you just do what you need to do. If you make it a big issue, it’s a big issue – it’s just part of managing the job.”

Message to other employers

“Be open minded. Think about what could be possible rather than focusing on what the problems might be.

Seek guidance, seek help. As an employer you’re not an expert on every medical condition and what the needs are and what the things are you need to manage, so go and find someone who can advise you.”

Sarah Salter, Group Head of HR, Places for People

Employee's story

A recruitment agency approached Jon about the job at Places for People because of his experience of leading on diversity for different organisations, including a number of local authorities. Jon manages a small team and reports to a Director.

The role at Places for People brought particular challenges. For example, Jon really needs to work at a large screen, but he’s often not in the same office two days running. “It’s a real ‘hot desking’ mentality – you can go and work in any office anywhere. We’ve got four large screens strategically placed around the country.”

Jon also employs a reader for a few hours here and there to help him deal with documents, and he uses a digital dictation machine, emailing the files back to his PA. He’s also got a second laptop so he doesn’t have to travel with it so often.

Confident

The Access to Work scheme has paid some of the cost of these adjustments and Jon says it has helped a lot. Knowing about the scheme also gives him confidence about applying for jobs: “I can go to an employer at interview and say look, I may have one or two issues, they’re not very big but actually it probably won’t cost you anything either.”

Jon believes that confidence is the key to a successful career: “If you can’t be confident about yourself it’s hard for other people to put confidence in you.” But he acknowledges the difficulties: “It’s quite hard given some disabled people’s life experience.”

While he’s very clear that disabled people should be treated with respect, Jon enjoys a joke and doesn’t mind if it’s his turn to be the butt of it: “People can have a bit of fun about me getting someone’s name wrong because I think it’s someone else, or misreading something, or whatever it is. I think actually it helps the world go round and is part of the banter that goes on.”

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Jon with Chris Kilbane

Jon Prashar

Chris Kilbane, Individual Support Director

Jon working on his computer