How Virgin and FCB Inferno changed dyslexic systemic barriers
FCB Inferno and Virgin Group won at The Drum Awards for PR in the Corporate Social Responsibility category and the Social Media Award’s Best Use of LinkedIn and Use of Social Media for Good for its campaign changing the way people think negatively about dyslexia.
Sir Richard Branson and other famous faces talk about their dyslexic journeys
This campaign fundamentally shifted the way people view one of the most common forms of neurodiversity in the workplace. By recognizing dyslexic thinking as a skill on LinkedIn, Virgin Group gave the one in five people in the world who are affected by dyslexia the confidence to embrace their unique way of interacting with co-workers and employers.
Despite one in five people worldwide being affected by dyslexia, 97% of the population still view it negatively. This is because the current definition is outdated, classifying dyslexia as a learning disability, an impairment, or a medical disorder. However, recent research has shown that those with dyslexia outperform other people at a wide variety of skills such as creativity, empathy, leadership, and outside-the-box thinking - skills that are especially valuable in the workplace. The conversation around dyslexia needed to change, and employers needed to recognize all the things people with dyslexia can do as opposed to focusing on what they can’t do.
Campaigns about dyslexia had overwhelmingly focused on encouraging people with dyslexia to change the way they felt about themselves and empower them to embrace their difference. Research showed FCB Inferno that although this had some impact, the real barriers were systemic and that it needed to push for structural and cultural change.
The word “dyslexia” has an outdated stigma and negative perception - particularly in the workplace. But many highly successful people are dyslexic, including Sir Richard Branson. So Virgin partnered with Made by Dyslexia, LinkedIn, and Dictionary.com to shift focus to the term “Dyslexic Thinking” - a phrase that highlights all the positive skills people with dyslexia possess. To raise awareness, LinkedIn changed its platform to feature Dyslexic Thinking as an official skill.
Sir Richard Branson launched the campaign on LinkedIn, calling for others to join him in adding the skill to their profile, creating a groundswell of support from celebrities and non-celebrities alike. Dictionary.com followed suit, letting the world know they could now find “Dyslexic Thinking” in one of the world’s most-used dictionaries.
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A film was also released online that introduced the term “Dyslexic Thinking” by showing how history has been shaped by those who were/are dyslexic. Hyper-targeted messaging was used on LinkedIn tailored to HR professionals encouraging them to actively seek candidates who listed “dyslexic thinking” in their profiles.
The campaign was immediately taken up by international media outlets, gaining coverage from over 250 major global publications including the BBC, the Independent, Business Insider and Bloomberg. Tracking public sentiment across social media, FCB Inferno saw positive mentions about dyslexia increase by 1562%, while negative mentions decreased by 4450% from pre-campaign levels.
Within 30 days, 13,000 HR and recruitment leaders had also viewed the film explaining how Dyslexic Thinkers could help take their company to the next level. Finally, over 10,000 people had added “Dyslexic Thinking” as a skill on LinkedIn and which global companies including Facebook, EY, HSBC, and Microsoft are seeking out in recruitment.
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