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Mindset Matters: 3 Strategies for Leaders to Envision the Americans with Disabilities Act as a Business Advantage

July 20, 2020
Source: Forbes

While we continue to explore the expanding definition of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) beyond the vernacular of legal interpretation and the role of political activism, it is important that we pivot and closely examine one of the critical variables that will offer the business community a framework to both embrace the spirit of the document and incorporate it into their professional goals. As President John F. Kennedy stated, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." Investigating the ADA through a new lens business leaders must welcome the importance of learning as an essential role in their development and see it as one of the primary tools in adopting the ADA as a valued asset to generate a competitive advantage. Corporate leaders must be willing to incorporate a growth mindset and reassess their assumptions about the ADA and arrive at a new assessment that is open to the possibilities from strengthening their organization’s talent management to fostering a burgeoning market.

For C-level executives and senior leaders to adopt a proactive disability mindset they must continue to think through how the Americans with Disabilities Act can be an essential tool for their organization and find the best way to optimize its value. To get there, leaders have to:

Embrace The Fear

Corporate leadership has to tackle probably the most pressing question when it comes to dealing with issues of disabilities, especially in the context of work. Dealing with fear or the ’F-word’ has often been one of the primary issues, if not the primary issue when trying to find more effective solutions for persons with disabilities in the workplace. There has been a cottage industry that has spawned up around this very concern focusing on various topics from etiquette to sensitivity training. It is time for leadership to face these issues head on with a sense of radical honesty to not only truly learn what are the areas of interference, but to ask what they truly feel threatened by? It is only then that leaders will be able to move the needle forward and see the potential that the disability community can offer across the larger business milieu.

The Connection Between The ADA and Access To Valuable Human Capital

In the digital economy, leaders have to be poised to find great talent in new and innovative ways to keep pace with [their] competitors and develop a pipeline that will enhance the long-term strategy of the organization. The Americans with Disabilities Act offers leaders a magnificent opportunity and sound business reasons to pave the way for greater access to talent in numerous fields that will benefit corporate growth. Not the least of the reasons is the beneficial impact on organizational performance that can result from the skills of a diverse workforce. By fostering a culture of diversity and a capacity to appreciate the value of individual differences employers will benefit from varied perspectives on how to successfully deal with business challenges ahead.


Corporate leadership by utilizing this growth mindset should see the ADA as an extension of business culture. In doing so, it offers a framework to cultivate strategies that build upon the template that the Americans with Disabilities Act has already provided. Great leadership will recognize the significance of this framework and see it as a catalyst to enhance organizational culture across the board. Looking at elements of employee engagement to communication this initiates a budding relationship to the needs of employees with disabilities and the development of a healthy environment to increase productivity and job satisfaction. These components become successful tools for a vibrant business. Even before coronavirus, workday flexibility such as remote work was an essential instrument for employees with disabilities. Now this requirement has become more valuable than ever before. The ADA can offer organizations a road map to learn how to develop a more effective remote work strategy that can have a seismic impact for all employees. Finally, as leadership thinks about how the ADA can influence corporate culture, a key area to focus on is that of the employer brand. This is just as precious as the customer brand values. Leadership has to ask two key questions. First, what can we as an organization do to make employees take ownership of their work? Second, how can these employees feel part of a community where they feel wanted and needed? It is these critical questions that leadership must grapple with, however, by leaning on the inherent value of the ADA as a guide, this will help them achieve these goals.

In understanding these three key aspects for business, leaders can not only embrace the fundamental evolution of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but they can see the intrinsic value this document has to create a more inclusive work environment for everyone. It is up to those in the business community to pick up the mantle and reveal the broader relevance that this piece of legislation can have for years to come.

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