Embedding disability inclusion into the Elsevier experience
November 28, 2022 | 6 min read
By Lauren Nowenstein
Employees with disabilities talk about how the support they receive enables them to perform their best and be “disability confident”
In the image above: Elsevier works to ensure that people with disabilities and caregivers have the support and resources they need to thrive in their careers and contribute to Elsevier’s success. (Clockwise from upper left): Stacy Masucci, Publisher; Simon Holt, Head of Central Strategies for Content Acquisition and Disability Confidence Manager; Emily Thomson, Senior Editorial Project Manager; and Elizabethe Westgard, MSN-Ed, RN, Executive Editor for Clinical E-Learning. Elsevier is committed to creating an inclusive and equitable work environment that respects each individual and allows employees to fully contribute. We strongly believe that diversity of people and ideas makes our company stronger and creates value for our customers.
Elsevier hires diverse candidates from all over the world and aims to be an employer of choice for individuals from all backgrounds, including those with disabilities.
Many of our employees have disabilities or care for someone who does. Here are a few of their stories.
“Elsevier gave me the opportunity to get back to a healthy place.”
Stacy Masucci(opens in new tab/window), a Publisher for Elsevier’s Bioscience & Translational Medicine books, writes:
When I was an Acquisitions Editor, so much of my position revolved around going to conferences and meeting new people. When I needed an accommodation, I called my manager, and she was wonderful. Her immediate reaction was, ‘What can I do to make this easier for you?’
I consider Elsevier one of the blessings in my life. During that time, I could not fulfill all the functions of my role, but Elsevier allowed me to work full-time from bed with voice-activated software and granted me a one-year travel hiatus. Elsevier had faith in my skills and the value I brought to the company and gave me the opportunity to get back to a healthy place. It was truly amazing.
“Flex time is awesome! I can make up any time spent on caregiving outside of the ‘normal’ workday.”
Elizabethe Westgard(opens in new tab/window), Executive Editor in the Clinical E-Learning Group, has led a successful career while working as the primary caregiver for a disabled family member. Even before the launch of flexible working policies, Elsevier allowed Elizabethe to be a home-based employee, which has helped her manage the emotional and logistical challenges associated with being a caregiver. Working from home eases the stress around traveling to appointments and facilitates communication with the medical providers.
FlexWorx has helped Elizabethe even more. This policy allows her to be flexible with her hours as she navigates the very rigid health system.
Flex time is awesome! I can make up any time spent on caregiving outside of the ‘normal’ workday. Knowing I have the flexibility to get my work done is extremely helpful. It has enabled me to manage my time so that I can meet, and often exceed, my deliverables.
Working with cerebral palsy
Like 17 million people worldwide, Emily Thomson(opens in new tab/window), a Senior Editorial Project Manager, has cerebral palsy (CP), which is a term used to describe a range of conditions that affect the central nervous system. CP is caused by abnormal brain development before, during, or immediately following birth. Every case of CP is unique and may affect fine and/or gross motor skills, muscle control and coordination, and speech, all to varying degrees depending on the individual.
In Emily’s case, which she describes as being on the light end of the CP, it is her eyesight and her hips and legs that are affected: “Basically, my brain has turned off the vision in one eye. If it hadn’t, I would see double all the time. I bump into glass a lot and my hips and legs make me a bit wobbly, but that’s about it.”
Emily said Elsevier has been extremely supportive, helping her transfer offices when she moved and giving her the flexibility to work from home.
“I have a disability, but I am not disabled.”
Simon Holt performs two roles at Elsevier: Head of Central Strategies for Content Acquisition and Disability Confidence Manager. Being visually impaired, he doesn’t drive and uses text-to-speech software to read articles online, but he doesn’t consider those things as challenges because he’s never known life any different:
Everyone is born with their own challenges. Some people are born in a country without basic civil rights. Some people don’t have access to quality education. Some people have disabilities. I have a disability, but I am not disabled; that is only part of me.
There is so much focus on what people can’t do. Let’s focus on what people can do rather than what they can’t.
Simon thinks his disability has made him highly adaptable and an excellent problem solver and listener —qualities that have helped him not only secure a job but excel at it. He considers himself lucky that someone who coincidentally had experience with visual impairment interviewed him to join Elsevier. He doesn’t want others to have to rely on a similar lucky break. He doesn’t think success for persons with a disability (PWD) should mean having a job. PWDs have as much to offer as non-disabled people so they should have the same opportunities.
For all these reasons, Simon created Elsevier Enabled in 2018 and is now Elsevier’s Disability Confidence Manager:
We want to make sure we have systems, structures and policies in place to ensure that we are fully inclusive of people with disabilities and long-term health conditions so they can fully succeed at Elsevier. The more people with disabilities work with us, the more disability confident we become.
One of our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) is called Elsevier Enabled. The group’s mission is to help individuals and the wider business become disability confident. The group also works to ensure that people with disabilities and caregivers have the support and resources they need to thrive in their careers and contribute to Elsevier’s success.
Elsevier Enabled is open to all employees in all locations, including those who have a disability and those who want to promote disability awareness. The group has about 150 members, meets monthly, has an active Microsoft Teams community, writes a quarterly blog for our intranet, and runs a bi-monthly speaker series. Elsevier Enabled members help each other as a community and help guide Elsevier as to the best way to help staff further.
Elsevier launched a Building Disability Confidence training course in December 2021 in association with Disability:IN(opens in new tab/window) to share practical steps individuals can take to be inclusive at work and feel disability confident. This course looks at what some common barriers are, as well as how managers and colleagues can help Elsevier become disability-inclusive. This course is promoted to all employees.
Elsevier has established a process for raising disability- and accessibility-related issues for employees and have formed a team to help employees find solutions, with funds available to purchase software or equipment where necessary.
Elsevier participates in the Change 100(opens in new tab/window) disability internship program, giving graduates and students with disabilities paid work placements. This helps us recruit more talented individuals into Elsevier, while at the same time giving individuals meaningful work experience in an environment where they know they will be supported
If you are applying for a job at Elsevier and would like to discuss a disability adjustment, please email [email protected](opens in new tab/window).