“The most qualified person should get the position” is something Ross firmly believes. Yet, this isn’t the case for all people with a facial difference. Discrimination exists, and Ross has experienced it firsthand in the workplace. Inappropriate comments, staring, and teasing were a reality for him, preventing Ross from pursuing certain jobs and having a negative impact on his self-esteem. This left him feeling, at times, like he didn’t perform at his best during interviews. Ross thinks this is important for potential employers to understand so they can focus on content and context rather than putting emphasis on things like eye contact and facial expressions. He believes that employers should also ask if there is anything they can do to make the interview process more comfortable for someone with a facial difference.
Ross also believes that it is incumbent for employers to make the work environment comfortable and welcoming for people with a facial difference. One strategy is to include proactive follow-ups to make sure people aren’t experiencing discrimination, microaggressions, or other forms of bullying. Further, there should be programs and supports in place, like disability coverage, for those needing surgery or procedures. He also suggests adding regular mental health check-ins — the same way that employers do reviews — to ensure that any employees who are struggling, including those with a facial difference, are receiving the support they require.
Today, Ross has a rewarding career in the energy industry. And his advice to others with a facial difference is to dream big and never give up.