“Disability is a strength for Microsoft, and it is a strength for any organization,” states Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft.
Despite being 30 years after the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this statement seems ‘bold’ and ‘forward-thinking’ to many. However, this was business as usual for Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft. Inclusion wasn’t just a diversity strategy; it was a part of their business in empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.
“My disability, my friend’s disability, actually gives us expertise and wisdom to ensure that whatever we do works for just everyone. Often, I am sitting there reviewing products or reviewing collateral that people want to produce. My first question to them is — who are the experts that you have spoken to? Who are the experts in the community that you have connected with and got their advice and expertise from, because that gives me a sense of how far along the path they are and how good that product is going to work for the individuals they are designing it for. People must embed people with disabilities into the design development and manufacturing process.” – Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer
Prioritizing inclusion requires an organization to look internally at their processes. At Microsoft, this has been a continue learning process, starting at the beginning– at hiring interviews. Rather than orient accommodations and interview approaches to the job, Microsoft oriented accommodations and interviews to the person who was being hired. Considering the uniqueness of each person was not simply a disability technique; it was an inclusion strategy that worked.
Microsoft has sustained this inclusion effort through a centralized accommodations program, neurodiversity hiring program, accessibility hack-a-thons, and countless resources for other companies to join IN and start their journey.
Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, recognizes accessibility and inclusion is a long-term, sustainable solution. He joins several other CEOs who have signed the CEO Letter on Disability Inclusion, showing he’s IN to advance disability inclusion.
How does he view the next 25 years? As WIRED reported, Satya nominated Jenny Lay-Flurrie, as the next WIRED icon. His nomination signals the next technological revolution can be possible with inclusive leaders like Jenny, and corporations that have accessibility and inclusion at the forefront.
Microsoft is IN. Are you IN?
Follow Microsoft’s Roadmap to empower: