Technological, societal, and environmental shifts are reshaping how many companies engage with people, customers, and communities. This is paving the way for systemic change in how we include underrepresented communities in the employment world.
Over the last several months I’ve been pondering and am now actively pursuing a new professional career in the world of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). This is not a new emerging field within organizations, but over the last several years it is fast becoming an ever more critical area for organizations, corporations, and stakeholders around the world to focus on. More specifically, in light of today’s societal changes we need to strive to incorporate a more diverse and equitable culture for women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and the disability community.
By recognizing the unique challenges faced by leaders with disabilities, organizations can build more comprehensive diversity policies to create an inclusive environment for all employees. Historically, executive level leaders have felt the need to be seen as superhuman in order to survive, a culture that has resulted in displaying one of invincibility and infallibility. This needs to change because once higher level corporate executives realize a disability is not a disadvantage in the corporate culture, the entire corporate structure, from the top down, will make way for real systemic change.
It’s not a very well-kept secret that the insurance industry can be unjust in addressing the needs of many of us with disabilities—especially when it comes to attaining the medically necessary equipment and services we need to improve our quality of life and independence. While countless folks in the disability community are frivolously working to change the system, the reality is that we need to learn to advocate for ourselves within the current broken system. It’s not impossible. But it does require a bit of ingenuity, persistence, and sheer determination.
I was injured in a shallow water diving accident in 2010 leaving me a C6 quadriplegic. I was left to fend for myself with respect to fighting for the equipment I needed for my daily survival in my home. While I have an army of medical professionals in my Rolodex, many of them are overwhelmed by the number of requests to write medical necessity letters to insurance companies. As a result, I discovered early that I was going to have to learn how to become my own self-advocate.
As a C6 quadriplegic injured in a shallow water diving accident in 2010 leaving me paralyzed from the chest down and a full-time wheelchair user, I am no stranger to being called an inspiration on a regular basis as so many others with disabilities undoubtedly find themselves in similar situations.
The challenge for many people with disabilities being called an inspiration lies in the perception beneath the word “inspiration.” Are we being called an inspiration simply because we are living a life with a disability and able-bodied people find it inspirational that we are surviving a life simply because of our disability? Or, are they calling us an inspiration because of our accomplishments and contributions to society just as any other member of the community?