Episode Flyer for #50: How Brands Can Increase Loyalty and Engagement

Guest: Doug Foresta        Guest Title: Producer of Human Potential at Work with Debra Ruh

Date: April 5, 2017            Guest Company:  Stand Out and Be Heard            


[Intro music]

Debra: Hello this is Debra Ruh and you’re listening to Human Potential at work. Today we’re going to talk about brands. We’re going to talk about why and how brands are creating social change and positive social impact and how consumers and communities can support the brands that are proving to us that they’re going to do the right thing by our communities- our local communities, our national communities, and our global communities. Today I’m excited to have Doug Foresta joining me again to have this conversation about brands. So welcome back to the program, Doug.

Doug: It’s always a pleasure, Debra. Thank you so much.

Debra: Yes, I always enjoy our conversations and I really like digging into some of these topics because you help me think and you always give me a perspective that, maybe, I haven’t considered. so thanks again for joining the program.

Doug: Thank you.

Debra: I work a lot with corporate brands and I know you do as well, Doug. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best known brands in the world and on one of our previous shows we were interviewing Ekaterina. We were talking a little bit about branding (personal and professional) and how important it is, once again, for brands to get it right. To make sure that consumers (potential consumers and communities) understand that their made up of human beings- humanizing the brand. I was really thinking about that and thinking about the brands that I’m working with that have actually made a lot of head-way making sure that people with disabilities are included in their workforce and that they’re accessible to consumers. There’s a lot of work being done but I don’t think the brands are doing a good job at telling their stories and making sure that consumers and communities really know about the efforts that their making to fully include us, or to make sure the world is sustainable, or other things like that, that I think can add a lot of value to their corporate social responsibility and making sure that consumers know what they’re bringing to the table.

Doug: Yeah, Debra, I agree with you about brands. When I think about the brands that- the reality is that it’s a competitive market place. This isn’t just about,”Hey you’re going to be good people, right?”. This is really about business and we like to do business with people and brands that we know like and trust. And so if I associate a brand with a good feeling and a good story, I’m more likely to be loyal to that brand. I’m more likely to purchase the product from that brand and I’m more likely to want to associate myself with that brand. Conversely, if I don’t feel like I like know and trust that brand, then I am less likely to pick that product up off a shelf, or Amazon, or whatever the case may be. and it’s interesting because a lot of brands are doing- and this is where I think the work you’re doing is so important, Debra- a lot of great work but they’re having trouble communicating their stories. And I’m curious, in your experience, Debra, why do you think that is? Tell me if you disagree with me, but if you agree that brands are having trouble communicating the good work they’re doing: why is it that they are missing the mark?

Debra: I think that’s a great question, Doug. I’m working with a very large global brand and I’m working with this PR firm that’s putting together a national ad campaign for them. Somebody sent me a picture; somebody on the other team sent a picture to my company yesterday. It was a picture of someone sitting in a wheelchair. And you really could not make out, really, even if the person in the wheelchair was a male or a female and it didn’t feel like a picture I could really connect with. We were giving them advice about the pictures and we were saying, for example, “Please don’t just put a model in a wheelchair because the community- we can tell.”

Doug: Right.

Debra: I mean a person in a wheelchair they can take one look at another person in a wheelchair- there are just some obvious things. If I can’t walk. It’s just easy to spot that you’ve just posed someone in a wheelchair and it feels very inauthentic to the community of people with disabilities. We really want to make sure that, yes, please include people with disabilities in your marketing- in your advertising. I’ll tell you who is doing a good job with that is Target. Target does an excellent job of including all of us in their advertising. They have done some of the cutest ads where they’ve included children with Down Syndrome; children using a walker or a cane; children that have obvious disabilities. Even though when you’re talking about disabilities there are many, many people with disabilities that are invisible disabilities that you can’t see.

Doug: Right.

Debra: But when you’re doing an ad where you’re visually showing us people with disabilities, it is important to use physical cues. So I understand you are very consciously including people with disabilities in your advertising. What I find, often a lot of these big marketing and communications firms, these PR firms and stuff, they don’t want to accidentally insult the community of people with disabilities and they don’t know what they don’t know. I was looking at some copy yesterday and they were not really using the kind of language that our community prefers, you know, People-first language. Don’t make the only label about me that I’m blind. You know?

Doug: Right, right.

Debra: Make it so I’m a person first. I’m all of these things. I have this, I am this and this and this. By the way, I’m also blind. It’s just one part of me being a multidimensional person.

Doug: Sure.

Debra: I think there is still quite a bit of fear out here with the brands and the agencies that are supporting the brands- not really understanding how to talk to our community in a way that feels very empowering. Then, of course, there is also the part where people with disabilities are sick of being your “inspirational porn” and we’ve talked about that on other programs.

Doug: Right, absolutely. Yeah.

Debra: I’m going to use this word even though it’s probably not true, but there are these “unwritten rules” that you need to be aware of, which is why it’s very important if you are a brand or you are a vendor to a brand and you are trying to make sure you are including positive empowering stories about the community of people with disabilities, you should really get the community of people with disabilities involved with that. And make sure you’re portraying those images, those personalities, in a way that’s empowering to our community. And I think you can say that, once again, about a lot of different communities, as well, Doug.

Doug: Well, Debra, are you saying, for example: do you find that brands because they are afraid of not getting it right, will sometimes just avoid it all together?

Debra: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.

Doug: Ok.

Debra: Absolutely. I see that happening in every sense of the word. It’s like, “I don’t really know how to make my website accessible, so I’m going to worry about that tomorrow. I don’t really know how to include people with disabilities in an empowering way in my advertising, so maybe we just won’t do it this time.”

Doug: Right.

Debra: So there’s still quite a bit of fear and I know that the community sometimes is frustrated by that because we’ve been talking about this for so long, but the reality is that we’re all evolving as humanity. I like to think we’re evolving, Doug. So some of it is shifting and changing. Doug, after we, in the United States, had our presidential elections and the result was different from what a lot of people maybe had hoped for, I know that there was a lot of confusion and depression and sadness and all these other emotions. I started to watch the Super Bowl and I was watching some of the commercials that big brands- and I’m going to give a shout out to the Pepsi Co. brand. I know that they had done a beautiful commercial about how we’re all in this together, we’re better together, and it was really very powerful and it showed people from different religions, different ethnicities. Now, they did not include people with disabilities in there. I would’ve found it even more empowering to do that.

Doug: Right.

Debra: But I still found it to be a really beautiful, welcoming, soothing commercial for me. I actually was one of those consumers that really appreciated this brand doing that. I’ll tell you another brand that is doing it and has done some really amazing things for people with disabilities is Starbucks. Starbucks did this wonderful commercial. I don’t know if you saw it, Doug, but it was just a really beautiful commercial about how your cups of coffee, how many they had sold and who they were and how many people that worked for Starbucks had gotten to go to college and how they were giving back. It was just a really incredible commercial. Applause to them. More and more I see these brands trying to understand what role they’re playing in society. Not only helping us understand they’re a “good brand”-

Doug: Right.

Debra: but at the same time, helping us understand their human brand as we talked about on some earlier episodes. But I still think there’s a lot of work to do. Microsoft is another one that I would give a major shout out to because they are involved in this in every aspect of the way. Once again, they’re not perfect, they still have work to do-

Doug: Yeah.

Debra: but they’re trying. What I’m trying to do, Doug, is encourage brands to tell their story.

Doug: Right.

Debra: And tell their story in a way that is empowering to all of us.

Doug: And by the way, just to mention with Microsoft, if people haven’t listened to the episode: we did an episode with the chief-

Debra: Chief accessibility officer. Yeah, Jenny Lay-Flurrie. She’s amazing, Jenny Lay-Flurrie.

Doug: I just wanted to give a shout out that if people haven’t listened to that episode they should check it out to learn more about what Microsoft is doing. Absolutely.

Debra: I agree and, you know, it’s interesting when I’m dealing with these big brands. They all have done something. They’ve all done something and some of it’s pretty incredible work and I was talking to a brand the other day. They have created some really, really accessible products but they’re not sure how to tell their stories.

Doug: Right.

Debra: And, once again, we had an episode where we’re talking about brands telling their stories and we actually want to know their stories and we want to know that they care about the environment; that they care about their communities; that they allow their employees to volunteer to do things that speak to their hearts. It’s just more critical than ever before that brands tell us their stories in ways that are empowering. I agree with what you said earlier, Doug, in that I will actually spend more money to do more business with a brand that I perceive- and there are perceptions going on there-

Doug: Right.

Debra: Pepsi Co. as a good brand.

Doug: Yeah.

Debra: I have never personally worked with them, but I choose not to drink soda because I never have been fond of soda. I also don’t drink soda because I have a tendency to carry too much weight and so does my daughter, Sarah. But Pepsi Co. has a whole lot of other products that are what I consider healthy products. So I actually had taken the time to inform myself as a consumer, and I will pick those products over products that I don’t know because I guess I am just a really grateful person and so when I find a brand including us in a way that I think is empowering-

Doug: Right.

Debra: I reward that brand by purchasing from them.

Doug: The value of any company’s is almost entirely their brand. I mean, you take a shirt or a pair of shoes and maybe they’re made in China or Bangladesh, or wherever they were made, and you say, “Ok, that’s a nice shirt.” but then you put a Nike Swoosh on it-

Debra: Right.

Doug: and suddenly it transforms into something else. All of a sudden the value of that shirt or that pair of shoes goes up exponentially because of the Nike brand. I think brands obviously are very anxious because they, on one hand, don’t want their brand to take a hit if they do something wrong.

Debra: Right.

Doug: I guess one of the questions I have, Debra, is: is there a way… one of the things I’m just kind of thinking out loud here about because brands are so worried- if we get it wrong then the world is going to jump down our throat [laughs]

Debra: Right.

Doug: You have any advice about- what do you do? Have you approached brands and said, “Look, I think you can do a better job”? How do you do that in a way that doesn’t cause them to shut down and go, “Oh my god I knew we shouldn’t have ever tried that.”?

Debra: Well, it’s a really good question. I think that there is a real opportunity in the marketplace. We have started reaching out to brands and we have tweaked the conversation that we were having because I recently started talking to a brand that’s new to my business. ‘m not going to even be able to explain the nuances well, but normally when I would be approaching a brand I always try not to talk about the fear. I always mention it because I know it’s there with them. You know, the risks associated with it.

Doug: Right. Right.

Debra: But I really do focus more on the rewards. With this particular brand, I have a new chairman, Rich Schwartzberg, who has joined my firm and when we had a conversation with this brand he took it in a direction that I had really not thought about going and the brand just really, really liked the direction. The advice I would have for brands is: you can’t ignore the obvious. You can’t ignore the consumers. It’s just too detrimental to your brand. If you have fears about working with a community like the community of people with disabilities, I understand that. The best thing you can do is bring in the experts that are part of the community, not necessarily the most popular marketing agency you’ve ever worked with. Unless, they are including the brand. For example, you don’t want to talk about the LGBT community without having somebody from that community really talking about it because (and hopefully not more than just one person) it’s hard for one person to represent the entire community.

Doug: Right. Right.

Debra: You really want all the stakeholders visions of it. You know, I have a daughter with a disability. I have parents with disabilities but I, myself, am not a person with a disability. So there’s real value to these brands to not only working with me, with the perceptions and everything I bring, but working with individuals with disabilities as well. Or if you’re going to have a campaign about African-American women, once again, continuing that train of thought. I think there’s a lot of fear but with the successes that we’re seeing, and we’re seeing some very very powerful, very powerful, best practices out there. I think Tommy Hilfiger is a wonderful example of a brand that listened to a good pitch by the community of people with disabilities with Runway of Dreams and creating adaptive clothing. They said, “Ok, we’ll do this but we don’t know how to get to the community.” and so what’s the real path to the community so that they understand that this adaptive clothing works with anybody? And what they found was that line sold out faster than any other line they’ve had. And, by the way, as the adaptive clothing line sold out, they also found that parents were in there, yes, buying clothes for maybe their child with a disability but they’re also in there buying clothes for their other children.

Doug: Right, who may not have a disability.

Debra: Right. So it was this wonderful win and they proceeded to have two other lines and now they’re expanding the line to adults and they’re expanding the lines to all the other brands in the clothing line, beyond just Tommy, too. But, kudos to Tommy Hilfiger and that brand for being the first. There is something to be said about being the first.

Doug: So let me ask you that question, Debra: what is the path? I mean, If I’m a brand and I say, “Boy, we are doing good work and we really want to reach the community of persons with disabilities”, what are some possible paths to take to start to share our brand story?

Debra: Well, I believe that I’m a path in that Ruh Global Communications is a path to it. I believe there are other paths, too. I think there are multiple paths out on social media. You have LinkedIn groups. You got Facebook groups. I know we have a group out on Facebook that you helped me start, Doug, Human Potential at Work. I would love for people to join that Facebook group when we’re talking about a lot of these conversations on there. And you have people joining on Instagram, Tumblr- it sort of goes back to what we were talking about with Ekaterina yesterday when we were doing her podcast recording. Before, the path was you would send some flyers, you would maybe do an e-mail campaign.

Doug: Right.

Debra: Now there’s just thousands and thousands. If you look at all the applications that are out there but you have to look at the path that makes sense for your brand. For example, if you are a brand that only works in the United States you want to look at that. You want to be very “geo-focused:” on that. If you are a brand that is a global brand and is in most countries, like a lot of brands. I travel all over the place. I was in the UAE last week and I noticed TGIF was there and-

Doug: Oh, wow.

Debra: Yeah, Coldstone Creamery was there and-

Doug: I would have never thought that.

Debra: I know! And who is it? The donuts?

Doug: Dunkin?

Debra: No, it’s a different one. They’re from Buffalo. I’m going to forget them. I’ll think about it in a minute because I love this brand. And I understood by looking at it that these were franchise brands but it’s always interesting to me to see the US brands like Kentucky Fried Chicken-

Doug: Right, right.

Debra: was in Sharja of the UAE. So as you look at these global brands. Microsoft I see all the time. I see IBM. Some of our well known brands here in the United States but it’s fascinating to see these brands because how are these brands talking to that part of the world because they’re there. How are they talking to it? I remember one time I went to Singapore and there were some women taking me on a tour of Singapore. I love Singapore. They said, “You’ve got to go to McDonald’s”, and I said, “No, I don’t need to go to McDonald’s in Singapore. There’s a McDonald’s on every corner in the US.”

Doug: [laughs] Right, right.

Debra: and they said, “But they have a spicy chicken that’s made just for us and I thought, “Really?”. So actually we did go in there and it’s fascinating. I remember when I was in Turkey I went into McDonald’s, not to eat the food, but because I’m fascinated with it. How is it different? How is the menu different? Then McDonald’s in India is different.

Doug: Yeah.

Debra: I think it’s interesting. I also would say to brands (because I really care about employment of people with disabilities) if you as a brand are employing people with disabilities in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Europe, in Australia- help me understand why you’re not doing it in Egypt and why aren’t you doing it in Singapore? Why aren’t you doing it in Sharja, UAE? Does that mean that you’ll only care about employing people with disabilities if it’s a compliance issue and there’s a threat of litigation? Then I start saying, “So you’re not really committed to us. You’re only doing it because we’re forcing you to do it?”. Anyway, so there are all those brand nuances that have to be considered and those are the kind of things that we really try to help brands work out. We’re not the only ones. There’s other amazing resources, too. But I do think that we’re in the infancy of this, Doug- really understanding how to help the brands tell their stories in ways that the community and all the different locations perceive who this brand is.

Doug: It’s interesting because I remember studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York City studying advertising and copy-writing in 1991- ’92, ’93. It’s funny because at that time there really was no discussion about what we’re talking about today. The world has changed so much and if you look at a lot of the iconic advertising and marketing over the 60s, 70s, and 80s there wasn’t really a representation of the kind of diversity that we’re talking about. I think it’s different. Think about how different the world is today than it was twenty five years ago.

Debra: Yeah.

Doug: It’s just changed so much and I think one of the great things about the work that you do, Debra, is that you’re really helping brands to figure out how to stay relevant and how to connect to consumers in this new global diverse economy.

Debra: Right. Right. And I thought of the brand. I do want to do a shout out because I love this brand.

Doug: Yeah.

Debra: Tim Horton’s.

Doug: Tim Horton’s! Yes, yes, yes.

Debra: Oh and if you’ve never been to a Tim Horton’s then you’ve missed out because- yummy! I love Tim Horton’s. And I don’t really know if Tim Horton’s is from Buffalo, New York but that’s where my husband’s from and that’s the first place I had it.

Doug: That was one of my few guesses. It was going to be either Tim Horton’s or Mr. Donut.

Debra: [laughs] It’s Tim Horton’s and they’re so yummy. Anyways, so Tim Horton’s can be found in UAE as well as many other countries.

Doug: Don’t you think that’s the thing?

Debra: It is. It is, I agree.

Doug: I know that there were global brands twenty five years ago but now with the internet and with, obviously, just the world we live in, like you said, very few brands are saying to themselves, “We want to limit ourselves to a certain group of people- a small segment of the population.”

Debra: Right, right. And sometimes these brands are totally hijacked. You had mentioned Nike before and I love Nike brand. I know there was a young man with a disability that had reached out to Nike and said, “You know, I wish your shoes did this because it would just make it so much easier for me.” And Nike totally responded and built some shoes around this young man and they have a line now. Kudos to them, but at the same time I know, once again, during the 2016 presidential election at one point (and I’m not going to say it here because I don’t want to continue to cause this problem) this band got identified with a certain segment of people in the United States that are considered very racist and prejudiced. As though they were saying this is the brand of “x/y/z”. Or like during the presidential campaign, Skittles got brought into it at one point.

Doug: Right, Right.

Debra: and these brands I know they’re thinking “Oh no!”, “Oh no~!”

Doug: Oh, Skittles was like, “Keep us out!”. Yeah.

Debra: [laughs] “Skittles are for everybody!”. Yeah.

Doug: Yeah.

Debra: I think sometimes it’s really scary when- and this is what the corporate brands are really nervous about- at any moment your brand all of a sudden gets attached to something-

Doug: Right.

Debra: that you absolutely don’t want it to be part of. [laughs]

Doug: Right. You know, the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan comes out wearing your brand.

Debra: [laughs] Right.

Doug: Eating a Tim Horton’s donut or something. [laughs]

Debra: That’s right. It’s like, “Oh, no! No, no, no!”.

Doug: They’re like, “We didn’t ask for that.”

Debra: [laughs] I was talking to a brand the other day and I said, “You know, bottom line these days-“, which is so interesting. What I say about a brand and what they say about a brand is going to be perceived differently. So it’s fascinating for these brands and for the vendors that try to support these big corporate brands. For the purpose of this conversation, we are talking about corporate brands even though we all have brands.

Doug: Right.

Debra: The non-profits have brands.

Doug: Right.

Debra: The government has brands and the world has changed so much. I think we expect authenticity. I also think, Doug, something that our community (the community of people with disabilities) has not done well and we have an opportunity to do well is: we have to reward the brands that are including us. So if a brand really does the right thing by me- my community, my community that I care about, my family- I’m going to take the time to do a shout out. I’ve done this a couple of times, but I did a shout out the other day for Honeywell because Honeywell actually created a thermostat I can use without getting out the manual every single time.

Doug: [laughs] Right.

Debra: And there are all these other benefits that are really powerful to me as a consumer and so now I’m brand loyal. And once I’m brand loyal it’s hard to break my loyalty unless you really, really do something awful.

Doug: Right. Right.

Debra: I mentioned that I had this extremely wonderful experience with an Apple representative that I just don’t believe I would have had with other brands and it was very powerful and I’m very brand loyal. I’m very brand loyal to Walgreens. I shop at Walgreens. I wasn’t shopping at Walgreens. I was shopping at one of their competitors for many years and I thought they did a great job, but I made a decision to change to Walgreens because Walgreens has been very committed to employing people with disabilities and that is very important to me. As consumers, once again, it’s great that we change our buying behavior, but we have to tell somebody we’ve done that. Through social media or writing letters to the CEO’s of these organizations.

Doug: Right.

Debra: I remember one time I was speaking at the National Down Syndrome Congress. That’s my peeps, you know?

Doug: [laughs]

Debra: That’s my family- we’re Trisomy 21; Down Syndrome. And there was 4,000 families there and I was one of the keynote speakers. I was saying to this audience, “If only us 4,000 families, just us 4,000 families, started writing letters to CEOs of companies thanking them for including us”-

Doug: It could make a massive difference.

Debra: It would be staggering. Just 4,000. Just 4,000. Just 400!

Doug: Right.

Debra: I mean they do care about what we think. So we have to take the time to educate ourselves and reward the brands that are rewarding us. I’m a big fan of Canon. I’m a big fan of HP. I know more than most consumers about the brands that are actually trying to include people with disabilities. And so I try to consciously make decisions but I try to talk about it because we can beat brands up, but there is real power in rewarding them for doing the right things. You know, Doug, we need more of that.

Doug: That’s a great takeaway as well, right? That we need to be able to give to the brands positive feedback and kudos when they do the things that we would like to see them do.

Debra: Yeah.

Doug: And we can’t complain, otherwise, if we’re not giving them that feedback. You know, businesses have a responsibility to their shareholders-

Debra: Right.

Doug: to grow their company. So if we don’t let them know that what they’re doing is having a positive impact… you know, “Hey I bought this. I’m going to continue to recommend you to my friends. I’m going to continue to buy your products.” You said that makes a massive difference.

Debra: I know. I’ll give a shout out to two telecommunications brands: AT&T that both my parents and I have also worked with over the years. My parents retired from AT&T but AT&T has done a phenomenal job of making sure their products and websites and services are fully accessible.

Doug: Yeah.

Debra: But so has Verizon wireless and once again, these brands are all working hard. There’s still work to do but they’re trying and I think they should get kudos for trying. I started working with Verizon last year. They were really working hard to make sure their websites and mobile apps were accessible. And I happened to have been a Verizon Wireless customer for- oh my gosh- so many years. So many years. Verizon’s cell coverage works a little bit better where I live but I really appreciated that this brand, that I’m supporting every single month, also supports the community that I care so much about.

Doug: Yeah. Sure.

Debra: I’m hoping that these brands actually will be rewarded by the community of people with disabilities and will take the time to tell these brands, “Thank you. I’m noticing.” “Thank you, Target. Noticing that you’re including people with disabilities in your ads.” Thank you Kohl’s, for having display where one of your manikins is in a wheelchair. Thank you for including us. Thank you, Honeymade crackers. Comcast, for doing this really cool commercial about Oz from a perspective of a young girl who is blind. I think Allegheny did a wonderful commercial. Sometimes these commercials are criticized- “Oh, you’re doing inspirational porn”. I think there’s a slippery slope there because I want to reward brands that are doing the right thing by our community and if we’re so quick to say, “Ok, I know you tried but that wasn’t good enough. No. Slap down. That’s not going to help. [laughs]

Doug: Right. That’s what I was saying, that we have to be careful not to jump down company’s throats.

Debra: Right.

Doug: Even if they don’t get it right the first time because then we’re going to shut them down and they’re going to say, “This is a hot potato let’s just stay away from it.”

Debra: It’s too hard. Yeah.

Doug: It’s too hard, it’s not worth the blow back. So there has to be a way to approach companies to say we appreciate the effort. Here’s our response to it in terms of these are ways that it could’ve resonated more with us. These are some ways that you can improve it. Rather than assuming bad intent.

Debra: Right.

Doug: Yeah. Do you think, Debra, (as we wrap up here) in your experience have you found- I don’t know if you can make a blanket statement like this- but do you think that most brands genuinely want to do the right thing when it comes to the disabilities community?

Debra: I do. I just really have a need for that. What was interesting is that I’ve written multiple books and when I wrote my second book Tapping into Hidden Human Capital, where I was following the journey of corporations all over the world that were employing people with disabilities. When I first asked multiple US brands to be in the book they were like, “No, no, no, no, Debra. We haven’t done enough and we’re afraid if we’re included in the book consumers will say, ‘Yeah, but you haven’t done this.'”.

Doug: Right. Right.

Debra: And I’ve actually seen that happen to brands. I had seen this one brand that had made all these amazing efforts to include people with disabilities in their workforce get publicly embarrassed at this large conference by somebody that said, “Yeah, but your website is so inaccessible.” Embarrassing brands is never a good idea but-

Doug: No.

Debra: I think it’s to the point where we have to assume positive intent but what I found was that it took me like two years to get this book written for a variety of reasons and to get it out to market and by the time it was starting to come out to market some of the brands said, “OK, Debra, we’ll be in there”. I had seven brands jump into the book at the very last minute (US brands) and I said, “Ok how come now you’ll tell your story?”

Doug: Right, right.

Debra: And they said, “Well because this isn’t going away. We’ve realized that there’s legislation, there’s litigation, there’s brand pressure and the reality is we have got to figure out, in an empowering way, include people with disabilities because this is not going away.” And so now they’ve realized that if they don’t tell their stories somebody else might tell your story and they might tell it in a very bad way.

Doug: Right.

Debra: And so I really do believe that brands do care and do want to do it. I think a lot of money is being spent in this space that we’re not seeing really good outcomes from. If you’re a multinational brand and you want to prove to the community of people with disabilities and you take a million dollars and you send it to one non-profit and that one non-profit doesn’t really have any positive outcomes, I perceive that you just wasted that million dollars. The brands are trying to figure out how do they best work with this community and how do they best tell their stories in a way that is empowering to us and then, once again, we have an obligation as a community and consumers to reward the brands that are trying.

Doug: Amen.

Debra: Yeah, so, Doug, thank you so much for having this conversation with me. I think it’s such an important one. I really believe that the more we can convince these corporate brands to truly include us and to realize that we are consumers and we can be your employees and we can be your partners and your investors and your shareholders, the more the brands realize that they can include us and we will reward them for including us. I think the more success we’re going to have with true inclusion. So thank you so much, Doug.

Doug: Thank you, Debra. It’s been a pleasure.

Debra: Yes, thank you.


[outro music]


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.