In the business world, many folks are familiar with the initials, D&I. Companies have been focused on improving their practices of fostering diversity and inclusion; however, some believe there is a letter missing from the abbreviation as any discussion about D&I is incomplete without ‘E’ – equity in the workplace. This past August, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Wake County Economic Development organized the inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity conference to provide attendees with tangible takeaways that they could use in their own workplace. Equity is trying to understand where people are coming from and give them what they need to be successful. For people with disabilities, accessibility is that equalizer.
As the Tech Services Manager at LCI Tech (now Ablr), I had the privilege of serving on the “Creating Equitable and Inclusive Cultures” breakout session panel alongside Timothy McClain, U.S. initiatives consultant, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Military & Veterans Affairs with MetLife, and Willy Stewart, chairman and CEO of Stewart. The panel was moderated by Dickens Sanchez, associate director of business development with Clean, and Kristen Koch, HR business partner with ABB Inc.
I wanted the audience to leave the conference with the knowledge and techniques necessary to implement accessibility into their D&I strategy so that equity may thrive in their workplace. Many companies that I have spoken to boast of diversity and inclusion policies as part of their recruitment strategies, but very few have actually checked to see if their career pages are actually accessible to all applicants – for many business leaders, this is an “ah-ha” moment.
I was able to lean on my own experiences when I struggled to apply for jobs online because the forms were not accessible – even when the employers were ranked highly for diversity & Inclusion. I had to rely on my wife to help me complete applications after she got home from work and between tending to our newborn. This is an example where D&I forgot the “E” in Equity!
My passion for learning more and speaking up about Diversity & Inclusion stems from my desire to represent an underestimated group of people, and raise the awareness of how critical accessibility is, and I truly believe we are starting to make an impact!