1. Hello Nico and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. How did you start to work for Carmeuse?
I’ve always wanted to work just like everybody else does, so after I finished my studies, I started looking for a job. Even before that, I used to do internships. For me, it was a great opportunity to be surrounded by people without a handicap.
Somebody in my network of friends was working within Carmeuse, so I sent her my resume and cover letter. They were very open and they proposed me to start a job there, in the Communications Department. I was invited to visit the offices and see if everything was accessible for me, as I move in a wheelchair. Everything was great and I was very motivated to join the company and have a real working experience!
2. What do you think about the way that Carmeuse as an employer treats disabled employees? What are the challenges you face at work and how do you handle them?
At Carmeuse, I feel respected and actually, I prefer not to have any special treatment. I ask people not to be over protective or to look at me differently, but in the beginning, it’s normal that they know how to react. I’m used to this kind of situation and I did my best to make them feel comfortable.
Although Carmeuse is a global company, you can still feel the family spirit and that means a lot to me. I think it is a very flexible company, with open-minded people - I enjoy working here and being part of this global family.
I had the chance to do a “Lunch and Learn” session, to introduce myself in front of a lot people at Carmeuse and it was an icebreaker for my colleagues and me.
My team is great and I always feel very welcome! Sometimes we organize team activities outside work and I really enjoy it! It allows me to have something different in my daily routine.
As regards my handicap, Carmeuse built a special ramp for me, so I can easily access my office, without any help.
3. Do you have any specific advice on how to deal with disabled colleagues at the workplace?
There are some things that I would advise anybody to think about when dealing with a disabled colleague:
- Let the disabled person decide if they feel capable of doing something or not! Sometimes you will think something is difficult for me, but actually, it isn’t.
- Give the person some guidance.
- Don’t be shy with disabled people and go out of your comfort zone.
- Give them the chance to reintegrate in the system.
- Pay attention to small details and simply say hello. Smalls things can change a lot!
4. How do you find a balance between your handicap and having a normal life (friends, activities, work)
I try to organize things as much as I can, on my side. I work part time and I focus on my physical therapy after work.
I really try to go out of my comfort zone and meet people, even if it’s pretty hard. I don’t have the freedom of a non-disabled person, but I try my best to have a normal life: I move around, I go to the grocery store, I go out with my friends. And to be honest, it feels really good!
Photo credits: J.C. Guillaume