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Mindset Matters: How the Image of Disability Impacts the Corporate Bottom Line

November 18, 2019
Source: Forbes

Part One: Setting The Groundwork

Mindset Matters is going to use the next several columns to take a deep dive into the world of image and perception and how that directly effects business and the overall culture. There is a direct correlation to the value proposition and economic realities of persons with disabilities based on how they are perceived across the mainstream culture. The upcoming columns will focus on industries like film, television, advertising and fashion where it is not only image that drives perception but shapes our cultural understanding of what is considered acceptable. In developing that general acceptance these industries are becoming the driving force in setting trends and becoming the taste makers for the society at large. This is why over the years artists, innovators and entrepreneurs have pushed so hard to have a voice and cultivate an image of disability within these spheres of influence to educate and broaden a cultural awareness of the disability community as a critical demographic.

It is important to reiterate that in setting the groundwork for understanding the power of perception business must play an essential role in this process. We are at a tipping point in our society where the disability community can no longer be ignored. Just by the [sheer] numbers any business who excludes those with disabilities are failing their organization both internally and externally. In the United States alone, there are 61 million people with disabilities making up over 20% of the population and this does not include the impact on family and friends. For companies that rely on a business to consumer model it is essential that they begin to explore their business strategy through a disability lens or pay the consequences of [losing] a potential competitive advantage. Corporations need to cultivate a new strategy towards integrating disability into the mainstream culture and enlightening businesses on the true value of this community long term.

Creating a foundation of meaning making within the larger cultural framework is essential. This is where public relations, advertising and communication firms play a critical role in shaping perception and defining the image of disability across a range of social milieus opening up new categories to the larger culture. A prime example of how communication firms are establishing the framework for culture change is the Valuable 500 “Diversish” campaign developed by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

This campaign has served as a seminal moment in the intersection between disability, business and how that is shaping corporate leaders’ perception towards accountability and inclusion. The “Diversish” campaign was unveiled at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Summit in Davos, Switzerland. This had been the first time where disability took such a prominent role by being discussed on the main stage of the event. Using satire as backdrop Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO [was] able to poke fun at businesses that call themselves diverse but, either ignore, overlook or defer anything related to disability. The “Diversish” campaign offers a mockumentary style approach to show the often absurdity of corporation’s inability to not only see disability as an essential cornerstone of any diversity strategy, but through the power of the moving image helps redefine the judgement of disability.

Society needs public relations, advertising and communication firms to be the spark plug in helping to reframe peoples understanding of disability by stabilizing the narrative and aligning the disability experience not as an outsider but rather allying with brands that are familiar to a larger swath of society. By doing this a new tone can be set where the very notion of disability is treated as something that has inherent value and is important to both the business and consumer. It also displays that the disability community can and is actively participating in the culture at large. This framework helps to define a new reality where the perception of disability is being transformed and the power of numerous media platforms offer the next wave of communication.

As Mindset Matters begins to look more closely at the power of the image of disability through the crossroads of film, television, advertising and fashion in subsequent columns, it is critical to remember that there are key factors to consider. Not only are there great champions out there advocating for this cause, but the marriage between art and commerce is more important than ever before in redefining the perception of disability.

Link: Go to website for News Source
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathankaufman/2019/11/18/mindset-matters--how-the-image-of-disability-impacts-the-corporate-bottom-line/#3b0d877f6c65


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