It has been 40 years since actor Geri Jewell starred in Norman Lear’s sitcom The Facts of Life, changing the game for disability representation in television. I’m grateful to have witnessed the progress that followed her success, but frankly, it’s been hard fought, and far too slow moving after all this time -- whether on screen, in marketing or in the workplace.
Diversity and inclusion are important cultural topics gaining momentum. And yet, disability is almost always overlooked. Which just doesn’t reflect our society, because one in four of us has a disability. It’s the one minority group we’re all likely to "join" at some point.
Of course, we know this is the right thing to do, but I’d also like to make an economic argument. Fast Company recently reported companies offering "the most inclusive working environment for disabled employees achieve an average of 28% higher revenue, 30% greater economic profit margins, and twice the net income of their industry peers between 2015 and 2018." It’s also estimated that the 61 million people living with disabilities today have a buying power worth more than $22 billion.
Easterseals purpose is to change the way the world defines and views disabilities; we exist to make profound, positive differences in peoples’ lives…and, we’ve done so for 100 years. Today, Easterseals is actively partnering alongside the entertainment industry to advance disability inclusion, break down misperceptions and stigmas, and make certain people with disabilities are included in front of and behind the camera -- via efforts like the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge and Media Access Awards. The power of quality storytelling is its ability to influence, inspire and change people’s perceptions about who we are, how we see ourselves, how we understand and empathize with other people.
We would like marketers and communicators to join us. When you diversify your staff and think inclusively about your communications, your brand story and creative content will better connect with your customers and core audiences in more genuine and meaningful ways. And along the way, truly help your business’ performance.