Meet Merilyne Davies
RX Global Executive Sponsor for Disability
Q. Tell us about your role at RX and how you arrived here?
A. I am the Global Director of Privacy and Data Protection Officer for RX, which essentially means I help the organisation navigate the multiple privacy and data protection laws and requirements applicable to our business globally, ensuring that we remain a trusted custodian of our customer and employee’s data. Before joining RX I was the Global Data Protection Officer for LexisNexis and Data Protection Leader for RELX.
It is with great pride that I was recently offered, and keenly accepted, the role of Executive Sponsor for Disability for RX. I am excited to grow a supportive community of People with Disabilities (PWD) and our allies within RX to drive real change in how we embrace disability as an inclusive organisation. I am fortunate to be supported by our newly appointed Enabled Committee made up by those who share this passion and are either PWD or allies.
Q. Can you share your experiences of disability?
A. Reflecting on my own disability and my career success to date, I realise that it is because of my dyslexia that I have achieved in life – not despite it. Like most People With Disabilities, I navigate my challenges as part of my daily routine – this is what makes us such resilient and creative problem solvers who often think outside the box and can easily identify risks / challenges and the solutions to overcome them. How many times have we seen those desired attributes feature on a job description?!
I took to LinkedIn and announced to my connections that I was dyslexic to help remove that stigma that often comes with many disabilities and add to the growing number of amazing examples of those who have achieved great success with their disabilities. The outpouring of support both publicly and privately was heart-warming. Most reassuringly (but not surprisingly) of all was the outpouring of support and encouragement from my colleagues and mentors at RX who continue to trust that I get the job done and done well. It’s Business As Usual, just with the knowledge that I can always ask for support if I need it. That’s empowering.
Q. What prompted you to take on the role of Executive Sponsor for Disability for RX?
A. I am passionate about the need to see disability as not something of lacking or shameful - but of opportunity in terms of leveraging the many talents that so many of our employees and our customers with disabilities have. We will achieve this by levelling the playing field through accessible solutions and greater awareness, not just of the challenges we face, but with the solutions we provide. I always maintain that, whatever the challenges, with the right mindset, tools, and support we can achieve anything we put our minds and our hearts to. However, it is only within organisations where psychological safety is paramount, and diversity, equity, and inclusion are not only celebrated but are a critical strategic driver, that people with disabilities are empowered to succeed.
Q. What help have you had from the wider RELX family in establishing RX Enabled?
A. RELX have an amazing network of Enabled committees that I have had the privilege to meet and learn from. They have delivered a significant amount in such a relatively short period of time, which our newly formed committee can leverage within our own business. Everyone has been so willing to share their tools, tips, and knowledge for the greater benefit of the many, which will help us on our journey in quickly establishing the guidance, tools, and resources our business needs to support PWD.
Q. How does RX support accessibility for its products and customers?
A. Whilst we have a long journey ahead of us in establishing a standard of requirements and accessibility-by-design principles that see us embed accessibility into our products and services by default, we do have existing shows that have already implemented accessibility solutions for our visitors and exhibitors. For example, at Comic Con a dedicated quiet room with an onsite therapist and meditation podcasts is provided for those who, for example, have neuro-diversities that need a break from the noise, sights and sounds of the event.
Q. Why is International Day of Persons with Disabilities important?
A. With approximately 15% of the world’s population, or estimated 1 billion people, living with a disability, we make up the world’s largest minority group according to the WHO. Of this figure an estimated 386 million are of working-age, therefore, the chances are that any one of us are working with colleagues, peers, managers, or customers who have some form of disability. It is with this in mind that IDPWD is important as it provides a platform for raising disability awareness and the actions we all need to take to support PWD, but also celebrate PWD. It also reminds us of the discrimination that PWD still face today, therefore, importantly, the day also serves as a reminder of the rights afforded to PWD.
Q. How can we as individuals better understand disabilities?
A. The best way to truly understand disabilities is to be respectfully inquisitive. If the PWD is open to discussing their disability, then simply ask your question. I often find I dispel many not-so-great myths and legends surrounding dyslexia when people ask me about it, and, I hope, leave them with a more inclusive view of it. If you feel awkward in asking, then refer to the many official societies and groups who specialise in the disability that you are interested in. Most have guides and bios of PWD that include details of their daily experiences and support needs.