Meeting disabilities with inclusion
Jackie MacDonald had been working at Boston Scientific for six years when her body started behaving in unexpected ways. Her feet drooped when she walked, causing her to stumble. Her balance felt off, too; if a gust of wind blew her hair over her face, she would lose her bearings.
“It was scary,” Jackie remembers of that uncertain moment back in 2010 – and not only because she was concerned for her health, but also because she worried about what others might think. Born with a rare muscular-skeletal disease called XLH, a degenerative condition which stunted the growth of her legs, Jackie had never wanted to call attention to her disability before. “I wanted people to judge me by my personality, or by my work, and not judge me physically,” she remembers. “I’d tried to hide my disability for so long, even though it was visible.”
Now, however, Jackie’s condition was causing neurological issues, which meant that hiding was no longer an option. She would need surgeries and treatment, which in turn would mean time off from her job as a quality systems engineer, accommodations in the workplace and supportive colleagues.
“And that’s where Boston Scientific has been phenomenal,” Jackie says with a big smile.
Receiving support and raising awareness
Boston Scientific aims to build a culture in which everyone has equal opportunities and can participate fully and meaningfully. That includes a commitment to disability inclusion and equality – for which Boston Scientific was recently recognized as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion by Disability:IN for the eighth consecutive year and, for the fifth straight year, made the Seramount Inclusion Index for its best practices.
One way Boston Scientific helps support employees is through its disability-focused employee resource group, LEAD (Leadership, Education and Allies for Disabilities). With chapters all around the world, LEAD raises awareness for issues specific to people with disabilities – both visible and invisible – while creating a safe and supportive environment where people can learn, teach and share resources. In addition to organizing benefits webinars, speaker sessions and awareness events, the group helps Boston Scientific evolve to meet workforce needs by proposing and incorporating inclusive workplace modifications.
For Jackie, becoming active in LEAD was one important way to feel supported while also lending her voice to make a difference for others. “There’s been a lot of sensitivity, allyship and inclusive changes for employees with disabilities,” Jackie says, pointing to modifications Boston Scientific has incorporated to many sites like adding push buttons to busy bathrooms, lowering soap dispensers and installing closed captioning capabilities in conference rooms.
As for her own experience with inclusion at work, Jackie says, “it’s been fantastic,” starting with the very first time she reached out for support.
Funneling her passion for inclusion into patient care
Today, Jackie has been with Boston Scientific for 19 years and counting. Whenever the need has arisen, the company has been able to offer options that enable her to perform her job, including time off for various surgeries and a hybrid work schedule. At the office in Marlborough, MA, Jackie sometimes uses a crutch or a cane to get around, and although the cafeteria keeps a pair of grabbers to help people reach the higher shelves of the beverage aisle, her thoughtful coworkers rarely give her that opportunity. “Everyone is all, ‘Oh, can I reach something for you? Can I carry something for you?’” she says, laughing. “Of course, I like to do things for myself. But it’s nice to have people looking out for you. It’s wonderful to be a part of such a caring community.”
Jackie has also funneled her experiences with disability into a passion for her work at Boston Scientific. Knowing firsthand the importance of good medical care and sensitive to the nuances of the patient journey, she is earnest about her role in providing patients the highest level of quality. “These are life-changing procedures. In my case, I know what it’s like to go from, ‘Will I ever walk again?’ to ‘I will walk again,” she says. “It’s so important to me to help other patients. I’m definitely in the right place.”
Want to work at a company that values disability inclusion? Explore career opportunities at Boston Scientific.