This week marks the upcoming celebration of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It’s a day that highlights not only the value of inclusion, but also the need for innovation to fuel an equitable and accessible world that is central to the long-term growth of society. Yet for this change to truly take shape, it is essential to once again reframe the narrative and rethink the role of people with disabilities in modern corporate culture.
To see the disability community as a beacon of innovation and an economic driver in tomorrow’s capital markets, it will take bold leadership to gain momentum and a foothold in spreading this new kind of thinking to to create real systemic change within the tissue. of business life. Across the business ecosystem, we are seeing an adjustment where a convergence between leadership principles and the role of disability discourse is beginning to emerge. Through this transformation, there is a great sense of optimism about what the future holds, but as we honor the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we must plant the seeds of change in order to cultivate a garden of leaders. for the journey ahead.
As cases continue to iterate, there are various examples of systemic change taking place. Some come directly from the disability community, while others come from academic institutions that embrace social movements that impact business life. The Valuable 500 is definitely one such organization. Known as a global business collective comprised of Fortune 500 and 1000 companies and their CEOs from Apple to UBS and more. Their aim is to emphasize the underlying need to exemplify the value of innovating together to create a corporate culture that sees disability inclusion as central to corporate ethics. One of their most recent initiatives is called Generation Valuable, a program that aims to close the talent gap with disabilities at all levels. A key part of the initiative is to focus on the C-Suite and help cultivate talent with disabilities in the leadership ranks to break down systemic barriers and redefine the role of leadership for a modern enterprise that recognizes the element of inclusion as being central to its business needs. .
Diversability is another disability organization at the forefront of leadership change. Founded by their current CEO, Tiffany Yu, the organization’s goal is to be a destination where people with disabilities and their allies can connect and engage in ways that redefine community, increase visibility and contribute to shape a fair society for all. Recently, the organization embarked on a new program called Diversability Leadership Collective. The goal is to create a leadership development mechanism that emphasizes meaningful connections, as well as various resources and developments that accelerate the growth of aspiring leaders in the disability community.
Programs like Valuable 500 and Diversability are not only changing the tone of disability culture, but setting a new bar for what is possible. While this forward momentum within the disability community is critical, it is the connection to broader social connections that will have an even greater impact in redefining the future of leadership for people with disabilities. . In recent years, we are beginning to recognize a real step change that will have a systemic impact on how organizations respond to the role of disability as a whole. Academic institutions, especially business schools, are revamping their curriculum and rethinking social obligations as a key aspect of modern business practice.
Top-tier business schools are further engaging in the arena of social responsibility by recognizing that it is an essential aspect of doing business in the 21st century digital economy. With schools like Harvard launching their Institute of Global Business or Wharton’s new major in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to have nearly half of Yale School of Management’s core curriculum focused on ESG investing, we’re seeing that this revolution of ideas is real and will have a significant impact on the future leadership of global companies. It is this kind of systemic change that opens the doors to making the disability economy a cornerstone of standard business thinking and allowing people with disabilities to be seen as more valued in this economic reality.
Business leaders and people with disabilities need each other. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship whose story has yet to be told. Now is the time to focus on the very mechanisms to find the best paths to growth. We have reached a tipping point where we are aware of the change that is happening, but we need to keep moving forward!
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