EXCLUSIVE: Ford Motor Company creates dyslexia-friendly pension communications

Employee Benefits Live 2022: To support its dyslexic employee population, Ford Motor Company has formed an initiative to create pensions communications that are more accessible.

Addressing delegates at Employee Benefits Live 2022 in a session entitled ‘Creating dyslexic-friendly pensions communications’, Oliver Payne, international pensions and data analytics manager at Ford Motor Company, explained that his idea behind creating the initiative first came when he realised some of the challenges that people with dyslexia face, especially when presented with large bodies of complicated, jargon-full, text.

Payne, working with Like Minds, the British Dyslexia Association and pension provider Legal and General, initially researched as much as possible about dyslexia; between 10% and 20% of the world’s population are dyslexic, meaning within Ford’s 200,000-strong workforce, around 20,000 employees could be dyslexic.

The hardest format for dyslexic people to read is black font on a white background; Payne pointed out that this is a very easy fix in order to make documents more accessible.

During the session, Payne referred to “the power of dyslexic thinking”: through overcoming the difficulties they face, dyslexic employees have a lot of resilience, they tend to have a visual approach to the world, are solution focused, and tend to be great communicators.

Ford carried out focus groups with dyslexic volunteer employees with Like Minds. “What was interesting was the openness from all the people within these focus groups; everyone had ideas, everyone was solution focused and wanted to tell [us] how to improve pensions communications,” Payne explained.

The research and focus groups led to some solutions that are now at the early stage of production.

Examples include amending standard pensions documents to ensure some of the language is more humanised, improved font to make it easier for dyslexic people to read, less black font on a white background or even using coloured backgrounds, easier flow to the documents, and consistent white spacing.

“I’m pleased to say this project doesn’t end here, there is a lot more work going on,” said Payne.

Payne explained that the work around creating dyslexic-friendly pensions communications has led to wider conversations within Ford about creating dyslexic-friendly car documents, and also job adverts and job specifications that are easily accessible for other neurodiverse people.

“Are we fully utilising neurodivergent candidates and potential employees? Do we have the right systems in place when it comes to job adverts, job specs, interview processes, to help these people get into employment?” said Payne.