I have maintained that I am very encouraged by the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in companies that focus on race, gender, and social justice. Now, my cynical side could say "...this is only picking up momentum because of the murder of George Floyd and the BLM movement, and the requisite pressure to act" - but I'm feeling I should have a more "glass is half full" mindset. The motivation is real, and I'm encouraged.

That said, the linked article does starkly call out something else I have maintained - inclusion of people with disabilities is a mere footnote relative to the focus on race, gender, and social justice. It goes further to state the motivation is principally to "collect social capital." Again, this is jarring but likely true. However, today my "glass is half full" mindset is causing me to look at this through a lens of opportunity. There is a multitude of investment opportunities being ignored by investors that can provide market-level returns and more.

Companies looking at a liquidity event (IPO, PE raise) need to outline their Enterprise Social Good (ESG) initiatives to demonstrate they mean to "do well by also doing good." In outlining these initiatives, companies should ensure there is concrete programming behind the assertions such that they don't face securities fraud claims after the fundraise is launched. Investors can play a huge role in backing companies that promote "inclusion by design" and creating an ecosystem of resources for other companies to fulfil their commitments around disability inclusion. A virtuous cycle.

The bottom line is I believe investors are missing a huge opportunity to fund companies that are focused on universal accessibility rather than "corrective technologies." From the referenced article: "Companies 'are really not incorporating the voices of disabled people,' she said, 'and a lot of the interventions that I’ve seen, such as the wheelchair that can help people stand, are not really assistive technologies so much as they are corrective technologies.' In other words, the interventions attempt to change disabled people to conform to the world around them rather than the opposite."

Happy to hear comments from the community on this point of view.

Elevate welcomes diverse ideas, voices, and opinions. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of the company. Please contact us if you have any comments.