Special Olympics CEO, Mary Davis Calls Inclusion a ‘Business Imperative’ in Fortune Magazine Op-Ed

Daina Shilts and ESPN’s Kevin Neghandhi on set at ESPN.
Daina Shilts and ESPN’s Kevin Neghandhi on set at ESPN.

In a Fortune Magazine Op-Ed titled, ‘Diversity and Inclusion Is Meaningless If People With Intellectual Disabilities Are Left Out,’ Special Olympics CEO Mary Davis shared the concept of Unified Leadership and explains why more companies must take the step in not only embracing this idea, but making it a reality. In the piece, she uses Special Olympics partners ESPN and Kantar as examples of organizations that are embracing Unified Leadership in its truest form.

Here is an excerpt:

Diversity and inclusion: a concept that has been a divisive one in corporate America since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Some companies view diversity and inclusion as a burden, simply hiring people with disabilities so that they can check a box to prove to themselves, their customers, and their board members that they are inclusive. But businesses that want to truly transform their internal cultures must work harder than that, and we at Special Olympics have found an excellent process for doing so.

Transforming a company’s culture to incorporate inclusion throughout the fabric of the organization can successfully be done through what we call unified leadership. Unified leadership focuses on training leaders with and without disability to create the best possible environment for people with intellectual disabilities to succeed in meaningful roles.

Take Daina Shilts, a Special Olympics athlete who was hired to be a member of ESPN’s reporting team after executives heard her tell her story while competing at X Games Aspen in 2015. Daina later reported on the ground from the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle in 2018 and Special Olympics Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Click here to read more of Mary Davis' article published in Fortune magazine.

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