How can you tell a diverse story without diverse storytellers?

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Getty Images

Many of us are overlooking people with neurodifferences.

Whether it's because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or ability, many people feel left out of the campaigns we create in advertising. As more people voice their desire to be represented, we have an opportunity to add more diversity to the workforce and to our storytelling. 

We need diversity to create real, meaningful change that connects with global consumers. But you know that already…who doesn’t? 

Frankly, we all have committees, initiatives, training and KPIs related to diversity. Yet many of us  are overlooking one of the most diverse populations in the world: people with neurodifferences.

There are 6.5 million Americans with intellectual and/or developmental differences (IDD), and many are more than capable job candidates. In fact, they are often the best candidates for the position. 

The Harvard Business Review reported that companies that employ people with IDD see positive business impacts, such as improved morale, enhanced products and services and increased bottom lines. These companies also gain dedicated, eager, hardworking, inspiring, talented and dependable employees. 

But still, more than 8 out of 10 people with IDD don’t have a paid job, according to data from National Core Indicators

Diversifying workplaces historically focused on gender, race and religion. People with IDD have been marginalized due to discomfort, fear, misunderstanding and unconscious bias. It’s time to focus on this underserved community – without discomfort or fear. 

Last year, Autism Speaks, Best Buddies, Special Olympics and the Entertainment Industry Foundation launched Delivering Jobs, an campaign that creates pathways to one million employment and leadership opportunities for people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other IDD conditions. The program provides a roadmap for candidates to find jobs and employers to create inclusive workplace cultures. (You can take the pledge here.)

One of the most humbling, emotional and inspiring moments in my life was marching into the National Stadium in Abu Dhabi with a delegation for the 2019 Special Olympics World Games opening ceremony. The excitement was equivalent to any Olympic opening ceremony (and I have been), but the real athlete commitment, focus and engagement were exponentially higher. All it takes is to give individuals with special abilities a chance…and you will reap the dividends.  

Our industry must represent all of the populations we serve. Only then can we tell authentic stories that resonate with life and society as it truly is. So let’s motivate each other to hire and support people with neurodifferences.

David Sable is cofounder/partner at DoAble and board member of Special Olympics.

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