Calling for diversity and link it to justice and equality is a good thing. But there is more to it.
Diversity, inclusion and equity are not just an issue of ‘communication and PR’. It’s part of the composition, structure and culture of a company. Awareness and acting towards change are necessary. Diversity is about changing perceptions which lead to actual cultural change. It’s not simply solved by just hiring one person of color or one person with a disability. People need to feel like they belong. Being included has a lot to do with how you make a person feel that they matter. Diversity and inclusion and equity are very important and cannot be longer avoided. We need D.I.E.
Diversity. Inclusion. Equity.
Designed to disable
A person with a disability, (condition, disease, handicap, challenge) is already one step behind on every level in this game called life. People with a disability often have to fight twice as hard to get the same opportunities as an abled person. The world is one big obstacle course and it’s not just when looking for a job. Housing, shopping, public transport, media, socializing, sport and travel all come with more obstacles than solutions. It’s not a person who is disabled, it’s the environment that has design flaws. An environment is a matter of design. If a disabled person can’t function fully, we need to change the design.
We are able
A person with a disability is capable of adapting and often even more motivated than your Average Joe to make it ‘work’. Finding a way has become a special skill. We know our weaknesses, our strengths, we have to fight for our right and are focused on abilities.
To avoid, deny or underestimate people with a disability is part of ableism.
Ableism: “Discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities”.
It’s not easy to change that but it’s a subject that deserves attention.
As the only disabled person in a company, trying to fit in doing things the abled way, is like trying to fit a circle in a square. During the pandemic when most of us had to work from home, we discovered we can. We don't need to work from 9 tot 5 at an office. We can be flexible and as long as the internet connection works, we are able to 'meet' online & get work done! It's not longer an excuse for companies to not hire people like me, with a disability, who can perfectly function from home.
We want more
Cultural diversity is promoted more often but inclusivity, accessibility and equity are not.
In commercials you see different people from different backgrounds, that has improved over the last 10 years. That’s a positive change. Nowadays various people from different backgrounds are more seen. But the mainstream media (in Europe) is still dominated by white (males) & abled and that reflects on screen. As we daily consume a form of media, we are not seeing a true representation.The media has a big influence on us and that’s why it needs to take more responsibility.
Act on it
There are just a handful movies with a role included about a person with a disability. But even then, the character who is supposed to be disabled in the movie is not played by a disabled person in real-life. A real representation is still very rare, even in 2021. As soon as I see a wheelchair-user, a blind person, autistic person being played by an abled person I feel deeply disappointed. Representation matters! We need to see real disabled actors and actresses having (leading) roles in a movie. Is it a casting issue or the lack of disabled people actually wanting to act? A disabled character should be played by a disabled person, even if it’s ‘just a movie’.
The lack of representation in the media and in the workplace, which are big parts of society, are a problem to those who have an extra (mental of physical) challenge in life. Keep in mind a disability can come in many forms and happen to any of us. We need to change, we need more diversity, inclusion, equity and representation.