A marketing firm has released a job advertisement that stipulates applicants must be dyslexic as it wants employees who think differently.
The ad – which features a photograph of the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who was dyslexic – says: “We require people with a unique mind, so only dyslexics (like Steve) should apply.”
It was released by the Garage, which aims to provide “innovative thinking” for businesses. The new marketing consultancy was founded by Chris Arnold, a former creative director at the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi who describes himself as a “dyslexic entrepreneur”.
Arnold said he does not care if the ad is seen as a discriminatory against non-dyslexics. “If you wanted to assemble the world’s best choir you’d want great singers, not tone-deaf ones. We are simply looking for the best innovative thinkers and they are usually dyslexics,” he said.
Arnold cited the example of another dyslexic businessman, Richard Branson, and also a number of historical figures who are believed to have been dyslexic, including Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison.
The Advertising Standards Authority said the advert did not appear to go against its code. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has yet to comment.
The ad highlights a debate among experts about whether dyslexia, which affects up to 10% of the population, should be regarded as a disability. In December the Guardian revealed Britain’s largest sperm bank was turning away donors with dyslexia, which it described as a “common genetic disease”. It has since reviewed its policy after the intervention of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
Earlier this week it emerged that Starbucks lost a disability discrimination case after it wrongly accused a dyslexic employee of falsifying documents when she had simply misread numbers she was responsible for recording.
Commenting on the Starbucks case, Arnold said: “Dyslexia isn’t a disability, it’s an inability in an linear environment, but a great ability in a creative one. Dyslexics are great at creativity, imagination, strategic thinking and problem solving.”
A spokesman for the ASA said: “There’s nothing in the advertising code that specifically prohibits a company from producing recruitment ads that seek dyslexic candidates only. The advertiser might be best advised to make sure it follows any equality and diversity laws.”
Richard Freedman, an employment lawyer at Rosenblatt Solicitors, said the ad may be controversial but is allowed under existing legislation.
“This advert … seeks to favour those with a potential disability,” he said. “The Equality Act 2010 expressly states that treating someone with a disability more favourably than a person who is not disabled is not direct discrimination. On the other hand, many people in society are of the view that any kind of discrimination is wrong; so the concept of positive discrimination remains controversial with numerous arguments for and against such an approach.”
He added: “This advertisement may well be permissible legally under the Equality Act, but employers should remain vigilant to ensure their job adverts, or indeed the resulting recruitment processes applied thereafter, do not inadvertently disadvantage potential candidates who do or may possess a protected characteristic.”
The British Dyslexia Association said it was “against discrimination of any kind”. But a spokeswoman added: “We would encourage employers to be aware of the positive strengths and abilities that dyslexic individuals can bring.”
Source: The Guardian
Kobby Blay is the chief health editor at Ghanahealthnest.com. A professional practicing nurse with specialty in mental health and focus for health communications, public health, travel photography, ICT and systems perspective for health improvement.