Do you have everything you need to fully participate?


Recently I shared about the Culture of Learning at JKC, the premier jewelry trade show, worldwide. I came away from that experience with many profound insights and inspirations, but the most powerful by far was listening to Tiffany A Yu and her talk where she shared her mission to increase intersectional disability representation and democratize visibility.

Woah. Diversability.

I learned that 1 in 4 people in the US manage a disability of some kind, and most of them aren’t visible or “obvious.” That means that statistically, at least 25% of your team is dealing with something that could make doing their job “the way that we’ve always done it” harder. Sometimes, it’s much harder.

Most folks who carry the weight of having to navigate extra obstacles when meeting expectations — like just plain old modern living in global and environmental upheaval isn’t enough — have to learn how to make accommodations for themself. They have figured out how to best set themselves up for success.

What if a quarter of our team did not have to figure out how to make life work best for them on their own? What if leaders started to see life from the perspective of diversability? If we all lead from a place that gives everyone the space and grace to be different? The future would be bright indeed.

Anyone who knows me knows that I always like to lean into questions. The question I learned from Tiffany Yu is: “Do you have everything you need to fully participate?”

“Do you have everything you need to fully participate?”

One simple question that opens up opportunities for people to ask for what they need, instead of assuming that the burden of responsibility is solely on them. Imagine how much burnout we could avoid by leading with this query!

The very best part about it? What’s good for one is good for all. Flexible work hours help working parents as much as it helps the neurodivergent. Work from home policies can help the anxious introvert as much as it helps people who struggle with mobility.

In fact, many of the “life upgrades” we’ve all enjoyed over the years have come from creating more accessibility. Curb ramps in sidewalks, for example, implemented to support wheelchair users, but used by strollers and wheelie suitcases everywhere. This is such a poignant example of how laws and programs designed to benefit vulnerable groups often end up benefiting all—so much so that social scientists have a name for it, The Curb-Cut Effect.

I am shining the spotlight on Tiffany Yu and encourage you to explore her point of view on her podcast, Tiffany & Yu and apply her insights into Diversability to your own leadership practice.

Yours in advocacy for having everything you need to fully participate, everywhere and all the time,

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