Recently, I’ve put in many hours building a disability inclusion roadmap for organization leaders, with one major goal in mind; helping them embrace their disabled workforce more fully, making inclusivity a core part of their approach. If you’ve missed it, this work ultimately led to the publication of a handout titled “Unlock your 15 keys to a diverse and empowered workplace” last week, which you can download by following the link above.
In this new series starting today, I want to dive deeper into each one of these inclusive leadership keys, so you can successfully begin to unlock each one. In today’s post, the first one in this series, we’ll explore the number one key to becoming a more inclusive leader, “Understanding Disability”.
This key sets the stage for recognizing disability inclusion as a crucial aspect of a truly inclusive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) framework. For most people, this is where it all begins… because you can only help make things better if you understand what the challenge is!
More than wheelchairs and blind people
Imagine Sanjay, a rockstar of an employee in your organization, incredibly talented and filled with innovative and creative ideas. Sanjay is not your “typical” person, as he was born with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a condition which, at times, affects his concentration and ability to focus.
If you’re like most people, what the word “disability” brings to mind are visible, physical limitations. Like someone using a wheelchair, or someone who’s blind or deaf. Yet, very few people realize that many disabilities impact a lot more people. These disabilities can be far more difficult to recognize, and incredibly far-reaching.
When it comes to Sanjay’s condition for example, “disability” definitely is not something that is visible to the naked eye. ADHD is a neurodiverse condition, meaning that Sanjay’s brain is wired differently than other people. This cognitive difference provides him with unique perspectives that would not necessarily occur to someone who identifies as neurotypical. ADHD is also not something that you might notice just by looking at Sanjay. It’s what we refer to as “an…