Talented and university educated, Yvan Le still faced many barriers to employment. He told his story at EARN’s 2019 Conference, recalling how a campus recruitment event, a collaborative effort between EARN and Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities at Carleton University, ended his four-year job search and launched his career, as an analyst at Accenture.
My name is Yvan Le and I’ve been an analyst at Accenture for just over a year. Apart from my job responsibilities, I am also part of the People with Disabilities Employee Resource Group at Accenture whose mission is to provide support and raise awareness towards disability rights in the workplace.
I identify as profoundly hearing-impaired – wearing a cochlear implant on my right ear, and a hearing aid on my left. It was during a campus recruitment event – a collaborative effort between EARN and the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities at Carleton University, that I came to know Accenture. That was just one of EARN’s many, many initiatives.
Prior to the event I had spent four years searching for full-time employment – for the start of a career, in spite of having attained a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with Honors. Due to my increasing frustration and dwindling self-confidence in ever being able to find work in Montreal, two years in, I moved to Ottawa to begin my graduate studies in Computer Engineering, with the hopes that the additional qualifications and the fresh start might finally prove to be the additional push that I needed. It is during this time that I came across Accenture at that fateful recruitment event.
I believe with the utmost conviction that my breakthrough had been catalyzed by the set of conditions fostered by EARN, which persistently advocates for inclusive job search conditions and a fair, open evaluation of a candidate’s skillsets. Crucially, we recognize that these skillsets were developed despite the disability barriers present, or – just as strikingly – we recognize that these skillsets were reinforced and nurtured as a natural consequence of the candidate’s adaptation to their own unique obstacles.
I’ve often said that the less I could hear, the more I would think. I had grown up with an affinity for the written words and numbers that I just could understand over the spoken voices that I just could not, and by the time my diagnosis finally arrived, I was already eight years old – eight years of maneuvering around barriers that could not even be verbalized, and yet were already being felt. This became the foundation of my experience navigating a hearing-impaired life, and from this foundation came the strengths and skills that I bring with me to work every day.
And over the past year, I’ve been able to re-discover my self-worth and confidence as an employed member of society, within a workplace that very much values my strengths and talents and that has fully supported me in terms of whatever accommodations I might need to do my job effectively. I know that I am heard when I speak, and I know that I can speak when I need to. I know I am blessed with an opportunity to be able to grow within and cultivate towards a thriving culture of inclusion and diversity, where the mishmash of countless backgrounds and journeys and facets of humanity mobilizes to become so much more than the sum of its parts.
So to EARN, and to Accenture, and to everyone who is tirelessly committed to empowering those who need empowerment – thank you. Truly. And in light of my own voice telling my own story, and in light of my own story being just one of millions, and in light of this conference’s commitment to continuously place each and every one of those stories within a world where they belong.
In light of all of this scope, I invite you all to consider the kind of skills and strengths that your organization needs, and to consider what kind of stories you would want to be told and heard in your workplace.