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When we talk about diversity, we need to include disability, and here’s why

  • Posted on December 1, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

In honor of International Day for Persons with Disabilities, we’re sharing perspectives from three Avanade colleagues across the world on the importance of disability awareness and what it means to have a community of support for employees with disabilities.

Making the invisible visible

I don’t think mental disorders are considered a disability in the U.S., but I know firsthand something like depression can be quite disabling to the person who suffers from it. I have been treated for depression for the past 30 years, and I openly talk about it and volunteer that information about myself. That is because I like to normalize it, so people can talk about it freely without being conscious about the stigmas attached to depression and feel understood. Depression can be a medical condition similar to hypothyroidism, which results from one’s thyroid glands not producing enough thyroxin hormone. In the case of depression, one’s brain may not produce enough serotonin hormone, which can be supplemented with medication.

I am learning every day that people I know and work with have various disabilities that are not visible or “obvious,” but they can be limiting and impacting their day to day life one way or another. So, if there is no awareness or understanding on others’ parts or if people have to hide their true self from others, we cannot call ourselves “inclusive.”  We need to fill in the gaps that may be created among our work teams based simply on misunderstandings.

—Zora Bryant, Group Manager, U.S.

Diversity to face adversity

The expansion of diversity brings us an unlimited horizon of knowledge and expands our achieving potential, both individually and collectively. This practice, which starts from understanding and assimilating this perspective, provides new and greater opportunities for finding effective solutions in the face of adversities that present themselves in the world, such as uniting completely different people, visions and cultures.

With this, we can infer that we have different levels of competencies, which are complementary to each other. Teams established under the concept of diversity, composed of people with different physical, sensory and intellectual constitutions (and different ethnicities, ages, cities, religions, gender identities and sexual orientations too), support environments with greater creative potential, of complementarity of ideas and solutions and, therefore, more prosperous.

Thus, as a member of the MultiPlus affinity group, which provides a sense of belonging to something greater, the importance of this is to perceive the disability in an affirmative way, demystifying the meaning of what you have versus what you have more. This helps us to practice inclusion in several aspects and being a protagonist in the continuous improvement of his own journey toward the great transformations in Avanade and in life.

—Luciano Holanda de Menezes, Senior Consultant, Brazil

Creating connection so everyone counts

I have dyslexia and was recently diagnosed with ADHD, both falling under the neurodiversity umbrella of disabilities. The diagnosis, identifying medication and ways to deal with both has helped me to be more self-aware and more confident in managing both conditions, and I’m far more productive at work and in my personal life.

Being open about it connected me with other employees with disabilities and together we have been partnering with our Inclusion & Diversity team to drive Disability Inclusion across our European business. We started as a working group, sharing stories and experiences which have recently been featured in an internal disability awareness role models campaign. This is a significant first step on our journey as an organization, because it’s contributing towards normalizing the conversation around disability in the workplace and removing stigma. It’s also aiming to change the perception of disability by shifting the focus to the value people with disabilities bring to the workplace. This contributes to a wider talent pool for Avanade where people with disabilities have the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way driving innovation.

We are soon to launch as an Employee Network for our European regions because that way we can amplify our reach, connecting with more employees and taking more people with us on this journey. The development of a Disability Inclusion Employee Network is a fantastic way of sending out a strong commitment statement about Avanade’s mission to foster an inclusive and disability confident environment, but most importantly, it creates a safe space for our employees with disabilities to be open about their disabilities if they wish to do so and to ask for any support they might require. This is important to us, because at Avanade everyone counts.

I am proud of being part of this Network and I am excited about all the great plans we have to accelerate progress in this space.

—Jed Khan, Director, U.K.

Anna Friedrich

Thank you for sharing your stories so openly and encouraging others to see the topic as normal. Even if you are not affected today, this can change quickly... 

December 15, 2020

Phuong Nguyen

This is a very meaningful post. I am touched by how we are seeing people as people by allowing everyone to share their stories and talk about their mental struggles. I think this would definitely bring us closer, make us feel more compassionate toward one another, and as a result - work with each other better. 

December 9, 2020

Doug Goldberg

Thank you each for sharing this part of your life and your experiences. While I don't personally suffer from disabilities, I personally suffer with someone who does...and I support her through it. It's hard for many to admit that there's an issue to battle when that is the same something they work so hard to mentally move out of the way to live life successfully. This kind of dialog is important and needed to surface the recognition that there might be something to discuss for the person with the disability and great for awareness for those who may not have realized it or knew what to do with that information. Big round of applause to you all!

December 9, 2020

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