Transcript #60: Having a Global B2B Inclusion Conversation

Episode Flyer for #60: Having a Global B2B Inclusion Conversation

Episode Flyer for #60: Having a Global B2B Inclusion Conversation


Guest: Doug Foresta       Guest Title: Producer of HPAW

Date: June 14, 2017            Guest Company: Stand up and be heard              

 

[Intro music]

 

Debra Ruh:                             This is Debra Ruh and you are listening to, or watching Human Potential at Work. Today, I am going to be interviewed by my producer and good friend, and also a cohost of his own program, Doug Foresta. Good morning, Doug. How are you doing?

Doug Foresta:                       Thank you so much, Debra. I appreciate it. Yeah. I’m really excited. I know what we’re going to talk about today, last week for people that were listing to the podcast, or we did it via livestream, as well. We were talking about, we had Stefan on from the ILO, and you and I were talking, I said, now, we should really let people know more, go into a little bit more depth about this event, this upcoming event that’s happening in Washington, DC. Is it June 20th? Is that right?

Debra Ruh:                             Yes.

Doug Foresta:                       I thought we’d talk about what the heck is this event, who’s participating, why now? Why is the time right now for this. Maybe we could just start with, what is this upcoming event?

Debra Ruh:                             Yes. You know what, Doug? I was thinking about it, because I know one thing that we tried to do on the program is, as much as possible, make it evergreen.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             You know, I think it is a very important topic, and whenever the ILO, the International Labor Organization, which is part of the United Nations and it’s really the labor part of the United Nations, that’s the way I describe it to myself. They’re doing, like a lot of United Nations agencies, they’re doing some very important work. When I first got engaged with Stefan Tromel who runs a program for them, that’s called the Global Business Disability Network, we started having some really interesting conversations about what’s happening in the US with disability inclusion, and accessibility, and is there a way that we could broaden the conversation? Are there things that we can do that, you know, allow these US corporations to have more of a voice, and bottom line, can we help more people, globally, with disabilities?

                                                      Can we empower more people with disabilities, and make sure they are included more effectively in the workforce? I really am, I talk a lot about global issues, I just really believe that this is something that as a world we need to be thinking about, so as you noted, there is going to be an event coming up, June 20th, 2017 in Washington, DC. I was honored that the ILO asked me to be their US consultant, to help them pull this together, because, of course, they know US corporations, but they thought it might make more sense working with somebody in the United States that knows the market, fairly well. What I did was, first of all, we talked about why would you even need a meeting like this?

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. What’s happening? I mean, why now? Even though, my God, why not any time, but what we found happening was the ILO has joined this conversation, and really shown global leadership, and there’s about 23, 25 multi-national corporations engaged with the Global Business Disability Network. I say, the reason why I give not a precise number, Doug, is because some corporations have just started the process of getting engaged, and it’s not just I want to be a member and you’re done. It is the International Labor Organization, so there’s some due diligence and stuff that has to be done, so corporations are in different processes of it. Not to mention, large corporations have their own internal processes that take time.

                                                      Of the corporations that are involved, one thing that I was a little discouraged about, I was really impressed with the companies that are involved, I am impressed that some of these companies have actually signed a charter committing to including people with disabilities in their workforce, and to really work hard to make sure that customers with disabilities, and customers that want to age in place, you know, bottom line that we have access, we can all be their customers, we can all buy their products and services, and give them our money. You know?

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Things are very logical, to me. Of all of the pretty important companies that were engaged, there were only two that were American companies, and bravo to those American companies. It was IBM, and there was Dow, so applaud both of those companies for their leadership. Nothing wrong with this, but the two companies that happen to be American, the people that are engaged are actually European and the UK.

                                                      There was a noticeable absence of Americans, people from the United States really being engaged in these conversations, which obviously, I don’t think is good. It’s sort of reminded me a little bit, a less dramatic political way of sort of The Paris Accord. Right? The United States, chose not to be part of that, along with Nicaragua, and Syria, but there were all of these mayors, and all these other United States leaders that stepped and said, no, no, no, we do want to be part of it.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             It seems like we’re in a time in the United States, Doug, where the corporations understand that they have to be a global leader. I was really happy to see CEO’s from US corporations, there is corporations all over the world, not only the US, but specifically here in the US, corporations saying that we are committed, we are committed to making sure that the world is a better place, including dealing with climate change. I like [inaudible 00:06:11] to see the leadership. Right, Doug?

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             I thought that was-

Doug Foresta:                       Definitely.

Debra Ruh:                             Very important.

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah. Absolutely. Let’s talk about some of the organizations, maybe start with organizations, then talk about people. What are some of these organizations that are participating?

Debra Ruh:                             Our first one that I would, did do a major shout out for is AT&T-

Doug Foresta:                       That’s a big brand.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. I just am very fond of AT&T, because both of my parents worked for AT&T, their whole career, and they retired from AT&T.

Doug Foresta:                       I don’t think I knew that, actually. I didn’t realize that.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah.

Doug Foresta:                       Wow.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. I worked for AT&T. My brother did, my sister, I mean, when we were young. Some people, because I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and there was a very, a lot of military there, so some people would call themselves military brats, and I would say, well, I’m not a military brat, but I’m a AT&T brat, because it was just everything for us. You know? It’s a brand that’s been around a long time, and they’ve done a good job at continuing to reinvent themselves as they went through all of the, it’s been divestiture, it’s just been really interesting to watch that industry evolve, just because it was important to our family, and certainly it was important to the world, but I have a special love, because-

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             It was important [crosstalk 00:07:31].

Doug Foresta:                       Personal connection to it. Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. AT&T stepped up and wanted to host the event, and they’re hosting the event in Washington, DC, and they’re doing it with the AT&T forum, which is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen to hold a conference, and it’s really nice, and it’s also very accessible, which is, you know, of course everyone having their conversation about disability inclusion, we really would like you to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             You know?

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah. That’s got to be important.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah.

Doug Foresta:                       Yes.

Debra Ruh:                             I see unfortunately times when talented speakers that might be using wheel chairs, they go to give their speech and they cannot get on the stage because there is no access to the stage, except steps.

Doug Foresta:                       Wow.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. I actually was in a conference, one time, and with a very talented global speaker that was in a wheelchair, and there was not access to the stage, and somebody suggested they could pick him up and bring him to the stage, and I thought, hmm-

Doug Foresta:                       How little dignity is that?

Debra Ruh:                             Right. I don’t think I want anybody picking me up, and taking me. I think I’d be really embarrassed if somebody-

Doug Foresta:                       Be carried-

Debra Ruh:                             Picked me up, and brought me to the stage.

Doug Foresta:                       Being carried to the stage-

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       I mean, that’s just-

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah.

Doug Foresta:                       Oh, my God.

Debra Ruh:                             So, I applaud AT&T for stepping up and showing leadership, but also for having such an accessible venue, and of course it’s a beautiful venue, and it’s very technologically savvy as you would expect from a company like AT&T. I was really impressed when I joined, and I’ve been very impressed with everything that they are doing for the ILO. Then, the ILO is joined by the USCIB, which is the US Council on International Business. I might have accidentally butchered that-

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. You know, they’re a very important, they’re talking about labor for businesses-

Doug Foresta:                       Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Debra Ruh:                             And, talking about it from an international perspective. They join the international labor and said, no, we agree, we think the US companies need to have a more powerful voice in these conversations, corporate social responsibilities never been more important. The UN has the sustainable development goals that are critical to the survival of the world, and making sure that we continue to change and evolve, so that more people can be meaningfully included, instead of it only being about 1%. I’m a big fan of the [inaudible 00:10:06]. I think it’s really important that the brilliance that comes from the US corporations be included in the global conversations.

Doug Foresta:                       Corporations are so, I mean, I just want to step a second, step out a second to say that, I think we’re seeing it, that corporations are themselves a political force-

Debra Ruh:                             Yes.

Doug Foresta:                       In the world. I think that the view that corporations only have responsibility to shareholders, and beyond that, that they have no real responsibility, or real impact. I think corporations themselves are realizing that A, they’re impact does affect the social impact they chose to have does affect their shareholders, and the B, that in fact they are a force, and if you think about the impact on peoples lives that large corporations have, it is, I forget what the date, I’d have to look at it, but if you take all the large corporations, together, they really add up to a major developed country-

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       In terms of impact.

Debra Ruh:                             Right. If you think about impacting that large of a workforce, I mean, you can really, you know, there’s definitely and should always be a place for the medium, and the small-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             And, the entrepreneurial businesses-

Doug Foresta:                       Absolutely.

Debra Ruh:                             But, if we could convince, which is happening, the really large multi-national corporations to truly include people with disabilities, not-

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             Because it’s the right thing to do, you’ll get a tax credit, but because these people have talent that add value to your corporation.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             We know that a diverse workforce, you know, I always think of the example Sandy Carter gave on the program earlier with Mattel, making Barbie-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Artificially intelligent, and they only used a small team of males.

Doug Foresta:                       Men. Exactly.

Debra Ruh:                             Instead of the targeted audience was young girls.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Anyway, I just think that’s such a good example. I just think it’s really important that the employers, that the corporate employers understand this group of individuals, they’re talented.

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             It’s, Doug, people are people, some people are more talented than others, some have good, or bad work ethics, people are people, are people, but at the same time we’ve got to break these barriers, and these stigmas that people are somehow broken, because they have a disability and they cannot add any value and I’m just going to give them some charity, and they can go stay at home. Yeah.

Doug Foresta:                       It’s interesting-

Debra Ruh:                             We need to stop that.

Doug Foresta:                       I was reading, and then I want to get into some of the speakers, but I was reading yesterday some articles about the current US workforce, I don’t know about the global workforce, I haven’t read on it, you might know better than I do, but I know in the US workforce, we are nearing full employment, so-

Debra Ruh:                             [crosstalk 00:13:11].

Doug Foresta:                       The labor market is tighter than it’s ever been, which means that if I’m an employer, and I need talented employees, it’s harder than ever to find, you know, from what we’ve considered the traditional talent pool, it is the tightest that its been in modern history in the US.

Debra Ruh:                             Wow. That is so interesting. You know, Doug, I remember when we first, when I first certainly got involved in these conversations, and a lot of people were getting involved in the conversations because Section 508, the rehabilitation act in the US at the time it was 2001, and the law had just updated, so a lot of it of course, that was also the year of our September 11th, so we got a little appropriately distracted during that time, but a lot of the conversation started emerging around, there had been conversations for years, but it seemed like it heated up around that time. I mean, it really did heat up, but at the same time, that’s when I started really paying attention to it, as well. What we would say, to the employers at the time, the baby boomers are going to hit retirement-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             They’re going to leave the workforce in droves, and you’re not going to be able to find employees, and none of course being able to predict the financial crisis-

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             And, some other things that happened that actually extended how long the baby boomers are in the workforce, and also a lot of people are realizing they don’t really want to retire, they want to continue making a difference as long as they can.

Doug Foresta:                       Right. It is happening. I think everything you’ve talked about is happening, now. You know?

Debra Ruh:                             Now.

Doug Foresta:                       Now. We’re almost-

Debra Ruh:                             There was a delay.

Doug Foresta:                       There was a delay, but we’re almost a decade out from the financial crisis.

Debra Ruh:                             Yes.

Doug Foresta:                       Now, it’s starting to happen in everything that you’re talking about.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah.

Doug Foresta:                       It’s starting to come, so you’re right, it’s not just about, it’s about finding the best talent, and finding that talent pool in an environment now where it’s going to be, you’re going to have to compete-

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       To get talent. You know, that’s the-

Debra Ruh:                             Right. That’s what we saw, and I remember we were saying, you know, you got to be paying attention, I mean, the numbers, especially when you were looking at it from the government, a lot of the United States government workforce, they’re over a certain age, and-

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             There was like a ton of people, I mean, a huge impact, I forget the numbers, now, of people that were leaving the workforce. How are you going to replace all that intellectual capital that’s leaving?

Doug Foresta:                       Yes.

Debra Ruh:                             I remember then, of course the financial crisis happened, and I was talking to one of the states, and I won’t tell you, which one, but I was talking to one of the states in the United States, I was talking to their head of the Department of Labor, and he, we were explaining to him why he should really be, you know, including people with disabilities in his state, in the workforce, and really encouraging him, and supporting the programs, and things like that, and he looked at, I was with three or four other leaders, and he looked at us and he said, very candidly, boy, this must be a hard pitch for you guys, because I have people that don’t have disabilities, he said something like, normal people, but I’ll give you that.

Doug Foresta:                       Oh, that’s wonderful. Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. That need jobs, so why would anyone pay attention to people with disabilities that need jobs?

Doug Foresta:                       Wow.

Debra Ruh:                             I thought to myself, I cannot believe he just said that to me.

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             Next thought was, is it inappropriate to reach over the table and slap you silly-

Doug Foresta:                       Exactly.

Debra Ruh:                             Then, I thought, professional. Be professional. I said, well, keep in mind, this is not just about employing people with disability, hiring people with-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Disabilities, this is about people that acquire disabilities while they work for you, so this is about retention, and-

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             We all know that when an employer loses an employee, it’s very expensive to replace-

Doug Foresta:                       Exactly.

Debra Ruh:                             Them. Very expensive. Much more expensive then working with the employee and making sure that they stay because they want to and you want them, and things like that.

Doug Foresta:                       That’s right.

Debra Ruh:                             I said, this is about retention, too. And, he was like, oh, yeah, okay. But, I don’t think I convinced him and hopefully he left and somebody that was a little bit more-

Doug Foresta:                       I was going to say-

Debra Ruh:                             Evolved joined that-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Department [crosstalk 00:17:28].

Doug Foresta:                       Somebody who really understood. I mean, that narrative is a really negative narrative about-

Debra Ruh:                             Yes.

Doug Foresta:                       What people with disabilities are capable of-

Debra Ruh:                             I know.

Doug Foresta:                       And, of course the reality is, we’ve talked about this before, good percentage of those normal people that he hires probably had a hidden disability.

Debra Ruh:                             That’s right.

Doug Foresta:                       You know?

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. Probably including, himself. I mean, that’s just, it’s part of the human condition.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             It’s just who we are.

Doug Foresta:                       Exactly. I’m going to go find those normal people, [crosstalk 00:17:56]-

Debra Ruh:                             I know. It’s ridiculous.

Doug Foresta:                       They drop them off every Wednesday at the-

Debra Ruh:                             Right. I know.

Doug Foresta:                       [crosstalk 00:18:01].

Debra Ruh:                             I remember when my daughter, on this program, she had said, I just want to be treated like I’m normal, and I thought, you’re using that word, but you know, it’s just funny.

Doug Foresta:                       What’s funny is everyone wants to be normal. You know?

Debra Ruh:                             I know.

Doug Foresta:                       Whether you have a disability or not.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. We only want to be included. We just want to be part of the-

Doug Foresta:                       Really. That’s what we want.

Debra Ruh:                             Try. Right?

Doug Foresta:                       That’s what we mean by normal.

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       We want to be, I think that’s a great way to say it. When we say we want to be normal, what we really mean is we want to be valued, and we want to be included.

Debra Ruh:                             And, accepted.

Doug Foresta:                       And, accepted.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. Accepted and included. I agree.

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             To deliberately leave out large segments of people-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             It just seems so silly, to me.

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             I talked about this too, Doug, but I remember talking to the government of Australia, and Australia, that’s a great country and they’ve done a lot of very powerful things. You know? They’re like everybody else, they’re not perfect they still got work to do, but quite a bit of their workforce is retiring, and aging out, or too young to work, and it’s putting a real burden on Australia, so they’re like, we have to tap into all of our workforce.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             So, they’re really trying to focus on how do they get, anybody that wants to work-

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             How do we make sure that they can work? Same thing we’re doing all over the world, but here in the US, too, if the jobs that you’re trying to do, you cannot do them anymore, because those jobs don’t exist, what can we do as a country to make sure that our labor forces are trained to do the jobs that are available-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Right, now.

Doug Foresta:                       [crosstalk 00:19:32] that’s why I think the time is right for this conference, because-

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah.

Doug Foresta:                       Again, I have not, I have to do some more research on what the international labor market is, but I’m sure that it’s, my guess would be, educated guess is that it’s fairly similar issues, like you’re saying-

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       In Australia. That we have to, you said it beautiful, we have to include all of our workforce, we have to tap into-

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       All of our workforce. I want to make sure we get a chance to discuss some of these speakers, here. I do see that there’s a woman named, Debra Ruh, who’s going to be facilitating a panel, but can you say a little bit about, and I see you have John Kemp-

Debra Ruh:                             Yes.

Doug Foresta:                       Is going to be one of the speakers, so who is John Kemp, and what’s he going to be speaking about?

Debra Ruh:                             John Kemp is an amazing man. I am a very big fan of John, and John has been in our industry a long time. He was one of the authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He’s a lawyer, he used to have his own practice. He’s just really an amazing man and a wonderful speaker. He also was born with no legs, and arms at the joints. So, he used prosthesis and he is so funny, too. He’s really a very, very funny guy, so the whole time you’re listening to his speech, you cannot decide if you’re going to be inspired and maybe a little teary-

Doug Foresta:                       Oh, my gosh.

Debra Ruh:                             Or, you’re going to be cracking up, because he can tell the funniest stories. He’s the keynote speaker. We’re going to introduce the event, and Stefan Tromel, and Ronnie Goldberg Lynn Cauley, collectively from the International Labor Organization, the USCIB, and AT&T are going to introduce the meeting, and welcome everybody, then John Kemp is going to do a keynote speech that is really going to be talking about these conversations from how can we as the United States get more meaningful engaged in these global conversations? Then, as you mentioned, we’re going to have several panels, and the panels are corporate panels, and the panel that I’m facilitating, the purpose of that panel is for a few US corporations to talk about what they have done, or what they’ve begun to do, because everybody is in different stages-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Of fully including people with disabilities in their workforce, or supporting their clients, to make sure that, they’re fully accessible, talking about it from the lens of future of work, and full inclusion, but really at it from a US perspective. On that panel, we have JLL, we have the Boeing Company, we have Deloitee, and then AT&T, the chief diversity officer from AT&T is on that panel. We’re really going to be talking about just some examples of what US corporations have already done, just some quick snapshots, and then the next panel that’s being facilitated by Ronnie Goldberg, from the USCIB, has Cisco, and boy Cisco’s got an impressive story. I’m going talk, we’re going to have them on the show, later on.

Doug Foresta:                       That’s great. I cannot wait-

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah.

Doug Foresta:                       For that.

Debra Ruh:                             I think they’re going to change everything. Cisco is really, and Cisco has been doing this for a long time, so they’re going to talk about the global efforts-

Doug Foresta:                       Nice.

Debra Ruh:                             Also, they’re going to talk about true numbers, true statistics. What are they finding from their employees with disabilities in different countries, and it’s very interesting, and very positive. The difference in productivity, it’s pretty powerful. Also, we’re going to have some members of the global business disability network, they’re actual members. We’re going to have L’Oreal. We’re going to have Repsol, which is an energy company in Spain. We’re going to have Excentra join that group. They’re going to be really looking, just having a quick conversation about, because they’re not real long panels, about the global, and why did these companies become part of this global business to business conversation.

                                                      Then, after lunch, we’re going to have another one that I’m blessed to be part of, where we’re going to have global disability experts talking about the global perspective from the lens of inclusion of people with disabilities, so we have Charlotte from the World Bank. We have the honorable Judith Heumann, who is also one of the authors of Americans with Disabilities Act, and just brilliant. Then, Phil O’Reilly, who lives in New Zealand and is showing real global leadership all over the world. Then, I am also part of that panel.

Doug Foresta:                       Yes. I see that.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. What a group of superstars. I’m very honored to be speaking with those people. In the afternoon, what the ILO did not want to happen is just to put them in a one day conference, they really wanted to really have a conversation with US corporations, and talk about how do we continue these conversations, and what does the US, how does the US want to be involved in these conversations? I’ll just give you an example, Doug, right now, they hold multiple conferences, but a lot of those conferences are held in Geneva, or they’re held in Paris, and they thought, they want to figure out if it would make more sense to the US corporations maybe to have some of events here in the US. They really want to listen to what the audience is saying. In the afternoon, we’re going to have, we’re going to talk about next steps, what do we do? They really want to hear from the crowd. I’ll tell you, Doug, it’s very exciting, we have 35 corporations coming to this event. 35 major corporations coming to this event.

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah. That’s huge.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah.

Doug Foresta:                       I was going to ask you, as you were talking about this, could you have ever imagined all those years ago when you started, you know, when Sarah was young, was littler that you would be sitting on a panel with major corporations having a global business, yeah-

Debra Ruh:                             No. It’s really such an honor and surreal, and sometimes I think that what are you doing up there? Every once in a while I think, who better to be up there?

Doug Foresta:                       I was just going to say-

Debra Ruh:                             Because I really believe that we all can be included-

Doug Foresta:                       That’s right.

Debra Ruh:                             I don’t, you know, I leave my politics at home. I just-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Really truly want what is best for everybody, and I think what’s best for everybody, the United States, the ILO, the UN, the world, people with disabilities, employers, is that we-

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             All be included.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             And, I’m not, I’m never, ever saying, corporations go on hire people that aren’t qualified to do your jobs. I’m never, ever saying that, but I’m saying, you really, if you don’t have a plan, and you’re not meaningfully including, or-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Retaining people with disabilities, you’re not going to stay competitive.

Doug Foresta:                       No.

Debra Ruh:                             [crosstalk 00:26:58].

Doug Foresta:                       I think, also the economics, and just the numbers in the labor market have now shifted to where if there was a point, where it was more difficult to make the argument, it is no longer more difficult, because there is a legitimate employer need for qualified, and talking about this, qualified labor. Right?

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       Like you said, people with disabilities are people, too. You don’t want to take someone who’s terribly introverted and put them into some position where they have to deal with people all day long. You don’t want to take someone who strength is numbers, and make them do something that they’re totally, that’s not their strong suit, but qualified talent, and that includes people with disabilities. It is a real, it’s going to be a real challenge, and the companies that are going to be successful, moving forward, are the companies that are going to find, and retain quality, qualified candidates, which includes people with disabilities.

Debra Ruh:                             I agree, and you know, one of the panelists, Kimberly Vanderlaan, she is senior vice president with JLL, and if some of our listeners aren’t familiar with JLL, it’s a multi-billion dollar global organization and they deal with real estate, and if you’re a company and you are, they do a lot more than what I’m going to say, but if you’re moving 500 people from one part of your building to another, there’s somebody you could go to if you’re building a new campus, they’re all about the real estate, workforce, and things like that. One thing that I love about the conversation, they’re having is, including all of us, is the future of work.

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             Instead of a person having to come to the manager with their hat in their hand saying, please, sir can I, or please ma’am can I have a standup desk, because I hurt my back and it hurts me to sit, right now, or I had a car accident-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Or, maybe I have MS, or maybe I just want to be healthier and I find that I get better circulation in my legs when I can stand up-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Just as an example. Instead of having to go and ask for it, you have the ability to adjust your desk up and down, to best suit your needs during the day.

Doug Foresta:                       Wouldn’t that be a wild-

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       Concept.

Debra Ruh:                             So, you accommodate yourself, you don’t have to go and ask somebody.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             That’s just one quick example, but they have some really, really fascinating, clever, clever examples, and you know, I know Kimberly Vanderlaan real well, and that’s why I invited her, but I also happen to know, and others will learn this, that Kim is a grandmother, she doesn’t look it, but she’s a grandmother, and she has two grandchildren that have pretty significant disabilities.

Doug Foresta:                       Wow.

Debra Ruh:                             And, she’s also the godmother to my daughters, so I know her really well, but she is so smart, and she’s certainly compassionate, but it’s good for business what she’s doing.

Doug Foresta:                       Right. Exactly.

Debra Ruh:                             She’s so brilliant, and she’s not in the quote disability space.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             She’s in a mainstream business-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             But, part of her job and part of her colleagues job is making sure that all employees are included-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             And, all employees can, as much as possible accommodate themselves-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             As much as possible, so employees can be productive. We need employees to be productive, because we need to make money.

Doug Foresta:                       Right. What I really like about this, of course the event is promoting disability inclusion globally, what I really like about this, and I’m not slamming social services, or, you know, my background is in social work, but social work has been having these conversations for decades, and-

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       But, then we’re just talking, you know, but that’s one conversation. This is really about, the piece like you said, this is a business conversation.

Debra Ruh:                             Yes.

Doug Foresta:                       With major brands. Right? AT&T, JLL, Boeing, Deloitee, just go on and on, Cisco, [crosstalk 00:31:18].

Debra Ruh:                             On and on.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. All of the brands that-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             We all know and love-

Doug Foresta:                       This is not a-.

Debra Ruh:                             Is joining this conversation.

Doug Foresta:                       This is not a social service conversation about these poor people with disabilities they need-

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       Work, how can we go get them some work? This is a conversation, and again, I don’t like to say this to demean social services, it’s just that-

Debra Ruh:                             Really. [crosstalk 00:31:42] part in this.

Doug Foresta:                       Right. But, that’s a different conversation, this is about, you know, social impact in the future-

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       I think, will happen through corporate brands.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. We’re already seeing that.

Doug Foresta:                       Brands. Right. We’re already seeing that. That’s your work, Debra, that’s your life’s passion, that’s what’s going to happen. We’re seeing that they are a political force, so that not to get political or anything, but just to give an example that with the Paris Accord, we are seeing, for example, that even a government, even if a government says, we’re not going to honor this, corporations are stepping in and saying, we will-

Debra Ruh:                             I know, I love it.

Doug Foresta:                       And, it matters.

Debra Ruh:                             It’s so noble.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             And, JLL was one that did that-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             The CEO stepped up-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Kim sent me an email, and she said, I am so proud to work for this brand.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Employees get proud.

Doug Foresta:                       Right. Partly because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s the right thing to do economically, because-

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       These corporations recognize that social responsibility is actually economically more viable. I just think that it’s great to have this conversation about people with disabilities, again from a business, and social impact perspective, which is very different, I think, from the conversations that were happening in the US, which many are primarily more on the social service, social work side of things.

Debra Ruh:                             I agree. Two comments on that.

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             We also invited people, different leaders and stuff from disability organizations, we’ve invited leaders from our government, Department of Labor, Department of State, US Aid, AAPV, will be there-

Doug Foresta:                       Nice.

Debra Ruh:                             John Kemp, I mentioned is there, The Viscardi Center is-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Amazing. It’s mainly corporations, but there’s also other leaders there to support the conversation [crosstalk 00:33:56]-

Doug Foresta:                       Right. We need those people, and we need those people.

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             Right. Yeah. I will tell you, when we first started it, we just we’re focused on inviting corporations because we wanted the corporations to fell safe having this business to business conversation, and I can say something that, I don’t have to worry about am I saying something stupid, so it’s a very safe place, and everybody wants the same thing. I think, that’s what’s powerful, but I also wanted to say based on what you were saying, Doug, because you were saying it so eloquently, one thing that I find with the corporations that we’re working with as clients, they are realizing that including, obviously, including people with disabilities in the workforce, retaining them, but also making sure your services and products are successful to all customers, including people that want to age in place. People with disabilities that not only is it good for your business, and your bottom line and everything else, but when you master that, and you do it really good and you’ve really built it into your process, you can actually use that model to also include other people that may be they’re other disability, diversity groups, excuse me, that might not be included.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             It winds up making the company better for everyone.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Which is a win, so I agree with you, Doug. I think these conversations are really important, and there is still time to join the event. You can go to www.businessanddisability.org, which is the ILO’s webpage, to learn more about it, and ask to be invited. It’s just going to be an important event, and it’s just the first one, it’s the first conversation. I also will say, Doug, and we said this with Stefan, but it’s not going to replace the need for the national conversations.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             We need to be involved in organizations like the USBLN, The National Business Disability Council. There’s the National Organization on Disability. There’s World Institute of Disability, and there’s so many national conversations-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             We must have the national conversations, but also, I think there’s room, especially for the multi-nationals. Not only the multi-nationals, because, and I’ll use AT&T as an example, AT&T is national, their clients are here in the US-

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             But they have vendors all over the world.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             I think that they actually have partners, now. They’re doing business in Mexico. Very few companies are just a US based company.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             Most companies, at some level, there’s a global aspect to what you’re doing, including competing globally for your employee base.

Doug Foresta:                       Even, honestly, for myself just as a basically a solopreneur, I have team members all over the world.

Debra Ruh:                             Right.

Doug Foresta:                       You know?

Debra Ruh:                             Right. Me, too.

Doug Foresta:                       Yeah.

Debra Ruh:                             David Riley, I mean, David on my team, David Perez is in Costa Rica.

Doug Foresta:                       Right.

Debra Ruh:                             You know?

Doug Foresta:                       We’re all drawing from global talent.

Debra Ruh:                             Yeah. Because we’re a world. Anyway, thank you for having the conversation, Doug. I really do believe it is an important conversation, as a time in our world and a time in the US history where the US corporations need to speak up and be heard in ways that maybe in the past we weren’t heard. I’m always so optimistic and hopeful about the future, but I think it’s going to be a great meeting, and I think from that meeting we’re going to see a lot of veery positive things happen, and the byproduct will be of course people with disabilities are going to be included more meaningfully in the workforce, and as consumers, and in commercials, and marketing, and it’s just very exciting to watch the world evolve.

Doug Foresta:                       [crosstalk 00:38:01]

Debra Ruh:                             Doug, thank you. Yeah. Thank you for joining me, today.

Doug Foresta:     Thank you. Thank you, Debra. You’ve been listening to Human Potential at Work with Debra Ruh. To learn more about Debra and how she can help your organization, visit ruhglobal.com. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, and you want to make sure that you don’t miss any future episodes go to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast, Human Potential at Work. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll be back next week with a new episode.

 

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You’ve been listening to Human Potential at Work with Debra Ruh. To learn more about Debra and how she can help your organization visit RuhGlobal.com. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and you want to make sure that you don’t miss any future epsiodes, go to itunes and subscribe to Human Potential at Work. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll be back next week with a new episode.