Author and leadership expert John Maxwell has said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” This maxim holds true when companies are positioning themselves to recruit and market to people with disabilities. Companies at the forefront of disability inclusion have exemplified strong executive leadership and support, and do the following:
- Complete an internal assessment that identifies gaps in employment, customer service, and marketing;
- Obtain support and commitment from executives who understand the business impact of reaching the market;
- Provide resources (staff and budget) to support disability employment, customer service and marketing;
Without executive leadership commitment targeting the disability market will lack strength and is almost always overtaken by other priorities. The most successful organizations have a C-suite leader, who is an influencer and is engaged.
Often, leaders like yourselves are the catalyst for disability inclusion. To make progress it’s really important for you and your team to have an honest discussion to assess where you are, where you want to be and identify the ways your organization can close gaps. A few questions to consider are:
- Who is your customer or employee with a disability?
- How will you reach them?
- What are the biggest challenges your prospective employee or consumer faces when interacting with your organization?
- How can your organization help prospective employees or consumers achieve their goals?
- How can your organization help prospective employees or consumers overcome challenges?
- What are your internal stakeholder’s biggest objections about disability marketing, employment and customer service?
- How can you overcome objections?
Answering these questions begins the process of integrating disability inclusion within your organization.