Debra Ruh‘s book Inclusion Branding: Revealing Secrets to Maximize ROI is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the benefits inclusion of persons with disabilities can bring to an organization and the community at large.
The talents of people with disabilities are historically underutilized by society. With technology significantly changing in the ability of people with disabilities to contribute in the workforce, this community represents an untapped source of productive, reliable talent in a time that finding resources is critical but difficult.
People with disabilities also represent an untapped market segment for business to grow their product and service sales. Debra contends that served well, this community and their supporters (friends, family) give a company a loyal customer base.
A particularly useful part of the book is case studies and interviews scattered throughout. The specific example of how Microsoft had to change it’s hiring methodology to make it easier for the disabled to apply was instructive. The discussion of the benefits of a cultural change at Microsoft driven by CEO Satya Nadella who was empathetic to people with disabilities due to personal experience a powerful case study. Such real-world examples of Debra’s 4P’s: Profit, People, Purpose, and Planet principles are most useful.
Need more information? The book’s footnotes give links to original resources that should keep you busy and learning for a good while.
This book discusses the benefits to organizations past the altruistic. I particularly appreciate Debra Ruh’s position that this is a community that can tremendously benefit a company’s bottom line and that’s OK. In my view, the combination of altruistic desire and the ability to profit will motivate companies to innovate and serve the disabled community.
Globally over a billion people live with a disability. How can your company serve them? This book will give you a good start on thinking through that question.
Five Favorite Quotes from Inclusion Branding
“I came to realize the tragic state of lifelong unemployment for people with disabilities. Globally, one billion people have a disability, and approximately 80 percent are unemployed. Only 36 percent of people with disabilities in the U.S. have a job, and only one in five have a full-time job. Sadly, one out of every three people with disabilities lives in poverty. Surprisingly, 50 percent of people with disabilities with an advanced degree are also unemployed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (2016).”
“In researching universal design, we actually stumbled upon the re-definition of disability by the World Health Organization in 1982. It shifted the definition of disability from the medical to the societal model. In other words, disability is not a result of some sort of physiological phenomenon. Rather, it is a mismatch between an individual’s level of ability and the environment and objects, which she or he interacts with.
“The damning thing about this observation is that disability is actually designed, whether it’s an oversight or a lack of consideration, but the fact that some experience is not accessible was designed into the building of the product or the experience. In critiquing accessibility, suddenly this approach of inclusive design actually made design sexy and creative and really appealing.
August de los Reyes
Head of Design and Research at Pinterest
“Employing a diverse workforce inclusive of persons with disabilities creates benefits in many ways: enhanced reputation, reduction in risk, innovation opportunities, and productivity gains. And most importantly, it nurtures a loyal, productive, and innovative workforce.”
“When we think of people with disabilities, we often think of sympathy. What I say, “It’s not sympathy. It is empathy.” You have to put yourself in his place, “What kind of service I should receive? Why always they would like to help me? They don’t want to make me help myself.” This is huge difference between looking at a guy with a disability and trying to help him to go through whatever agony he is going through, or you are looking at him and seeing where is his strength points and try to help him to be totally independent using these strength points. This is always what I say, that co-creation and empathy is the key success to your, whatever, framework or strategy.”
Suahil M Al-Almaee
Executive Director of Projects Sector, Tatweer Education Holding Company, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia