In the last Mindset matters column, we explored the idea that the shift from the maxim “Nothing to us, without us” to “Nothing without us” serves as a declarative statement that represents a radical departure in how disabled people perceive themselves, but also how they are seen by the larger society. Corporate culture is at an inflection point and undergoing critical changes that are making everyone a little uneasy. From new ways of working to advancing avenues of competitive advantage, corporate leadership is seeking opportunities at a frantic pace. However, the solution may lie in this new dynamic of shifting power where we can look at disability beyond the traditional tropes of diversity, equality and inclusion and see how this new sense can significantly impact the modern era of business thinking.
“Nothing Without Us” exemplifies a philosophy that describes the idea that the narrative of disability is a powerful influence on the future of society as it pertains to economic growth and the vitality of business itself. In an age where creative thinking is becoming more valued, drawing on the lived experience of disability, which is synonymous with creativity and innovative thinking, is an essential tool for any business. “Nothing Without Us” helps to reclaim disability as a conceptual idea that emphasizes a new definition of power and recognizes that difference offers a contemporary set of tools that leaders can use in their daily business practice.
When someone utters the words “Nothing Without Us,” it is not simply a clarion call for greater civil rights or the fight against discrimination, but these words represent a new era that provides a channel for society to recognize that the community of ability limited and their life experience plays an essential role in shaping the future of the culture we live in. As noted neurologist and author Oliver Sacks once wrote: “I long for a world that sees disability, mental or physical, not as a handicap, but as a unique attribute that can be seen as a powerful asset if given the right opportunities.” “.
It can be argued that by viewing disability through this new power dynamic, the ability to inspire the business world can be discerned in four key areas. The first is the economic opportunity or market. Second, is design, where the lived experience of disability will continue to have a profound effect on the way we live, work and play and provide businesses with a new lens of opportunity to develop innovative products and services. . Third, accessibility within the digital space. As new technologies evolve, access will become more valued with changing demographics, an aging population and more. Finally, the power of the disability narrative can run the gamut from the future of work to scenarios around human capital management, office design, hybrid work and beyond.
Nothing Without Us offers a glimpse into the future where the lived experience of disability becomes a precious resource for leadership to tap into. Corporate culture needs to rethink how to approach disability advancement beyond the traditionalist DEI perspective and use this narrative as a key disruptor for the future of business thinking. By embracing these opportunities, it can be leveraged as an economic driver and a way to help design a new management model for today’s and tomorrow’s work environment.
The business ecosystem continues to remain in a fragile state, yet leadership must look to the power derived from the lived experience of disability and translate this knowledge into tactics that will have significant value in shaping our own understanding. where the business should be.