Right to Read
Right to Read is an excellent campaign being run by the RNIB. Up to three million children and adults are being denied the right to read because they have a sight problem, dyslexia or another reading disability. The RNIB are campaigning to put this right.
This sort of campaign can have a damaging effect on many potential entrepreneurs. In the US around 35% of those starting a business describe themselves as dyslexic. My guess is that people who struggle with numeracy and literacy are also over-represented in those who start their own business or become self-employed here in the UK.
Campaigns such as this can perpetuate the myth that unless you can read and write you can’t learn and you will never amount to much. I taught in schools and community homes (a wonderful euphemism for approved schools) for a number of years working with young people who struggled desperately with reading and writing. They often had real problems with concentration on such mundane tasks as studying. These days we label them as dyslexic or having ADHD. The one thing they did not lack was enterprise!
A study published by Simfonec, the Science Enterprise Centre based at the Cass Business School in London, found that entrepreneurs were five times more likely to have dyslexia than people in conventional management jobs. Business founders such as Sir Richard Branson, Sir Alan Sugar, Kevin Linfoot and Anita Roddick are/were all known to be dyslexic.
Instead of labelling weaknesses we should instead focus on the strengths. Instead of saying that inability to read is a handicap we should ask people what they are good at. Enterprise comes from strengths.