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True inclusion includes providing access for people with disability to contribute and innovate at work too. Here’s a perspective that will make you think!
Today, Diversity and Inclusion are words more commonly used than ever before. When I browse through my LinkedIn, I can see many diversity champions across organisations sharing their agenda to move towards a more diverse and inclusive workforce. However, what do these terms really mean?
I came across this explanation by Author Liz Fosslien, that really got me thinking: “Diversity is having a seat at the table; inclusion is having a voice and belonging is having that voice be heard.”
This quote immediately reminded me of Dhanya Ravi, someone I find truly inspirational. Dhanya is a 29-year-old Disability Rights Evangelist who suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) or Brittle Bone Disease. As the name suggests, this condition leads to recurrent fractures. She has suffered over 300 fractures since her birth and has had to endure numerous hospital visits for treatment and relief in any form.
In spite of a challenging childhood, Dhanya was determined to educate herself. However, she didn’t get the opportunity to have mainstream schooling because of her physical condition. She didn’t give up and often says, “Although my bones are fractured, my spirits have always been buoyant.”
Today Dhanya is a freelance content writer, digital marketeer and motivational speaker. She advocates the need for a more inclusive society and strives to raise awareness about rare genetic conditions. There is no permanent cure for OI but Dhanya wishes to bring in a policy wherein it is mandatory to screen for genetic diseases at the early stages of pregnancy.
She has actively worked with many NGOs in the past but most importantly, plays a major role in creating awareness about the disease through public speaking, news shows and interviews.
Dhanya was conferred the National Award 2018 in the Role Model category by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. This is just one of the many awards that she has received for her work in the field of disability rights.
I recently had an opportunity to watch an interesting panel discussion with Dhanya Ravi and other change makers on ‘A Culture of Equality drives innovation’, held at Accenture as part of the Pride Month celebrations in the month of June. You can watch this video here:
Talking about inclusion as a concept, Dhanya mentioned that there has been gradual progress in terms of society’s acceptance of people with disabilities. However, she strongly believes that one needs to seek opportunities in the workspace, work to develop one’s unique talents and work relentlessly to achieve one’s goals.
Talking about her work, she reveals how she feels empowered that her clients do not care how she looks or where she sits and works. All they care about is what she does and how she responds to the work assigned to her. This is an important lesson – how a focus on goal achievement and outcomes can actually help drive equality and innovation.
Accenture as an organisation believes that equality is a major building block of innovation, and Dhanya is a great example of how productivity and motivation increases upon being treated as an equal.
Dhanya believes that not only is it critical to hire in a diverse manner, it is also imperative to make every employee feel included, no matter who they are!
In the video while giving her concluding statement, Dhanya mentions that in order to bring equality in the workspace, there should be more focus while framing policies, on accessibility as well as giving all employees more freedom to work towards innovation.
Watch Dhanya Ravi and other change-makers like her come together at Accenture to share their stories! Watch the complete video in the link/comments. We hope this inspires you to think of how you can contribute to building diverse and innovative teams!
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I'm Aesha Shah. Mother, Blogger, Explorer, and a voracious reader , all by a matter
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