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Special Olympics Chief of Organizational Excellence Makes a Case for Diversity in Leadership

Six people at the U.N. Standing in front of the U.N. insignia.
Special Olympics athlete leaders from around the globe pose at the U.N. during the First-ever Special Olympics athlete-led panel to convene at United Nations.

The following is an excerpt from the article titled Building a truly inclusive organization published by Campaign US and written by Denis Doolan, Special Olympics Chief of Organizational Excellence.

People with intellectual disabilities are frequently left out. But their alternative perspectives and skills can change our understanding of ability, intelligence and leadership.

At Special Olympics, I help athletes prepare to be team captains or committee members, and guide them in getting jobs or contributing to their community. I spend just as much time consulting with leaders to make this possible. More often than not, lack of inclusion comes down to expectations and behaviors of everyone else. We are the barrier. We find reasons to believe people will struggle.

Adopting a DEI policy doesn’t mean the work is done. What really matters happens next. Too often, companies don’t take enough action to develop diverse talent. If farmers sat around waiting for crops to magically appear, they wouldn’t grow.

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