Being a CEO for 25 years has brought with it no shortage of ups and downs. Challenges and triumphs come with the territory. If there’s been one constant, it has been change – whether that change is intentional or not.
Change isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s certainly not always good either. While it may not always be what we had in mind, we often must find ways to make the best of it. In fact, if we play our cards right, it can be a source of positive outcomes, and extreme change can sometimes bring enormous potential. Part of our duty as leaders is to recognize this, and to do our best to use change to the benefit of ourselves and others.
I won’t recount the many difficulties that the pandemic has brought into both my personal and professional worlds. This territory has already been covered by many others like me. Instead, with temperatures rising, foliage blooming, and masks disappearing, I’ve found myself reflecting lately on how to take this time of metamorphosis and come out the other end of these changes better off than when we started.
In 2020, more Americans used technology to work from home than ever before. In November of 2021, the number of Americans resigning in favor of other opportunities hit a record high. The great resignation has now been underway for the greater part of a year, and 67% of job seekers consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering job opportunities.
So yes, this pandemic brought many changes. Two of them are that 1. we live more technologically integrated lives, and 2. organizations are beginning to truly value diversity, equity, and inclusion.
For the last 25+ years, I’ve been beating the drum of inclusion and diversity. For the last 70+ years, NewView has been employing individuals from a very wide variety of ages, backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, and levels of ability such as blindness or low vision. From this vantage point, I can verify that diverse teams are not only happier and more well-balanced, but they also tend to outperform less diverse teams. In fact, DEI has even been demonstrably correlated to real-world business outcomes.
Lately it feels like things in these areas have been moving in the right direction, and the pandemic hit the gas pedal. But to truly close the DEI gaps full-stop, we must consider accessibility for those living with disabilities. Now more than ever, this means technological accessibility such as accessible websites, applications, documents, and digital forms.
Spring is here and the ground is fertile to continue this push towards a more inclusive workplace and a more accessible world. As leaders, let’s use this opportunity to continue advocating for the needs of people of all demographics and backgrounds. But let’s also build a world available to all Americans living with disabilities by implementing true digital accessibility across all our communications, platforms, and resources.
Doing so passes the 4-way test: it is true that people of all abilities need access to the world through technology, it is a fair ask of us to make this happen, it will build goodwill between organizations and their employees and customers, and it will be beneficial to everyone involved and for generations to come.