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“Getting up to go to work in the mornings like everyone else is a huge thing in terms of one’s self-esteem” Héloise, granted disabled worker status

Héloïse Bougault-Dausque, an employee from Nantes (France), was granted disabled worker status following a series of health problems. She returned to work in December after three years of sick leave. Here’s her full story.

At BNP Paribas Personal Finance, employees are the cornerstone, the very essence of the Group. Consideration of employees and their well-being is key, no matter what their position, level in the hierarchy, gender or physical condition.
Héloïse Bougault-Dausque, an employee from Nantes (France), was granted disabled worker status following a series of health problems.
After three years of difficult circumstances, Héloïse returned to work, mentally strong and in high spirits leading to open communication. As she herself states, “I am not Héloïse the disabled one, I’m Héloïse and I have a disability.” This is the spirit in which BNP Paribas Personal Finance has embraced its disability policy: ensuring everything possible is done to support employees with disabled worker status, with a view to making them feel better at work.

Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Héloïse Bougault-Dausque, I’m 38 years old and I’ve been working in an amicable debt collection position since May 2013, in Nantes.

Could you describe your career path in the company to us?

I joined BNP Paribas in February 2010, working in La Défense, Paris, at the business and entrepreneurs relations centre. In May 2013, I decided to leave Paris. I came across a debt collection position on the company’s intranet, at BNP Paribas Personal Finance in Nantes. I seized the opportunity, and came to this very scenic town.

As BNP Paribas Personal Finance is a company experiencing ongoing growth, I rotated through several teams within the debt collections department. In May 2015, health issues started arising, leading to a first period of sick leave. I returned to the amicable debt collections department in December 2018.


Following your health problems, you became disabled and BNP Paribas Personal Finance adapted to your personal situation. Please explain how it all worked.

Initially, the company doctor guided me through all the steps required when being granted disabled worker status. Based on medical records, I was granted disabled worker status at the end of 2015.
My attending BNP Paribas work doctor always remained very available, seeing me every six months to reassess the situation. I did my pre-return visit at the end of 2018, and all fell into place quickly after that. The work doctor called on an ergonomist who came to the company to see how I worked, and what changes should be made. The ergonomist came in on a Monday and the equipment I needed was in place by the Thursday. For almost three weeks, she left two chairs for me to try out and decide which one I preferred. The company also added a platform to allow me to work standing up. However, that didn’t work well for me, so within 48 hours they had made the necessary changes.

On my return, I went to see my manager to have discussions about how I was going to start working again, and the new processes in place, amongst other things. I also met with the company director, who really made me feel the warmth and openness everyone had towards me.

Everyone was available and responsive – both employees and the medical staff.

How did you react to the support the company gave you to help you to perform your work activities?

I had become a very anxious person, and it was nerve-racking returning to work after three years of sick leave. But from the moment I set foot in the company, all the worry, the anxiety, the self-doubt, disappeared. I received a warm welcome. I truly felt as if my return was eagerly anticipated. People were genuinely pleased to have me there and that really gave my self-esteem a boost. I told myself: “It’s great, I have a place within the company again, I can do what everyone else does: get up to go to work in the mornings.” That was a huge thing in terms of my self-esteem.

I’m lucky to be part of a Group that allows me to work flexi hours suited to my situation   to gradually get back into the swing of things: 3 days per week with blocks of two times two hours per day.

What has this support brought you, at a broader level than within just the framework of work?

When I arrive in the mornings, I’m always greeted by smiling, dynamic people, and believe me, I’m really touched by that. I don’t basically consider myself an ill person but rather someone who can genuinely make a contribution and help others.

What would you like to tell disabled persons who believe their disability is viewed by some companies as a hindrance?

To all those who believe their disability is a hindrance, I’d say they shouldn't see their disability as the end of the world. You need to tell yourself that it's all part of life. Of course it’s hard, but you need to keep moving forward. We all have certain values and being disabled doesn't take away those values. My own values are worth something to a team, to my family, or my company. Disabled status is not what defines us. I’m not Héloïse, the disabled one. I have a disability, but I’m Héloïse.
I have a new life now. Many things need to be adapted, but you’re still worth something. Personally, I have a motor handicap, but I'm still fully functioning mentally. When I’m at work, I feel like an employee, not a disabled person.
When you go through all the doctor’s appointments and exams, you're reduced to the state of “sick person”. Working allows you to be viewed in a different light. I once again became someone with a head, able to think and do things.

In a few words, how would you describe the disabled persons policy implemented at BNP Paribas Personal Finance?

Considering my personal situation, I would say: good fortune and company goodwill. It’s really lucky to be part of a Group that adapts to a disabled situation, and I was fortunate enough to be supported by those around me.

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