October 7, 2022
On August 8, 2022, a group of corporate executive CEOs and advocates gathered at the New York Stock Exchange to discuss disability employment and the role of employing people with disabilities to encourage sound business development and promote inclusion. Planning Across the Spectrum’s representatives Andrew Komarow and Liz Yoder attended and among us about four dozen other leaders, advocates, and business owners.
As the author of this, I felt a little odd being there. My prior background is not one of a corporate leader. After graduating from a social justice-focused Jesuit institution, I lived in a group home and worked in nonprofit or caregiving work for the next seven years of my career. I consider myself to be a social justice and disability rights advocate. So, when invited to participate in the New York Stock Exchange visit, I didn’t know how to think about it. I really thought that I was an imposter.
I’ve had many imposter moments as a financial planner for the neurodiverse. My intent has always been to work with people with intellectual disabilities and other disabilities and their families. I’ve not always been an advisor to these families, but it was always my desire to work with them. Even as a financial planner, my role is to support families making decisions for their own future and their children’s. I want them to see the future of what their children can do and become included and can thrive.
I have been outspoken about planning for people with intellectual disabilities and other disabilities including their diversity. I have been educating other financial planners and advisors and the best practices about how to communicate with all their clients and how to better serve their clients who do have communication needs or barriers.
But the most important thing for me to remember on August 8 and every day thereafter, is that we do belong here. In my work as an advocate, I am here to demand that we all be able to live our lives out in the open. While I don’t have a disability myself, I believe I have to use my experience and my knowledge of my community to speak into the areas where I see exclusion. The New York Stock Exchange is a representation of the place where disability has been hidden. The whole environment of corporate America shies away from the experience of people with disabilities. Those with disabilities who are working in the United States often feel the need to hide their disabilities from their peers and their employers to feel safe, feel like they can relate to their peers, and feel that they can maintain their work autonomy. The CEO Commission for Disability Inclusion that gathered on the New York Stock Exchange is a group of company CEOs and advocates that demand we don’t need to hide. We should be recognized as leaders within corporate America.
We know that when people with disabilities are included in corporate America our businesses thrive. We as the founding team at the Neurodiversity Index know this and are trying to prove that when companies hire, retain, promote, and encourage their employees with neurodiversity, they are some of the most successful businesses in America. They need to be recognized as doing not just the right thing for their employees but the right thing for their business. Learn about impact investing in companies that invest in the neurodiverse.
We know that when people are able to live authentically who they are at their workplace, the workplace is a more welcoming and livable place to be in the long term. When people can bring their fullest selves to their workplace, they’re able to do their work in a way that promotes creativity, ingenuity, wholehearted participation, and dedicate themselves to the growth of the business.
As a social justice advocate that doesn’t always think of herself as a business person, I know the New York Stock Exchange is the exactly right place to be for me as a disability advocate. We belong in corporate America. The people who are traditionally under-represented, underemployed, under-supported, and undervalued belong in corporate America. Their participation in these companies - large cap, small cap, mid cap, and international - makes these businesses thrive.
We plan to be at the New York Stock Exchange again, either with the CEO Commission in the future or on our own with the Neurodiversity Index’s next phase. When we are, we expect questions, but we will know that we belong there! Contact the Neurodiversity Index to learn more about how you can invest your values into the companies that are leaders in neurodiversity employment.
We are advisors and advocates for our neurodivergent clients and clients with disabilities. Get our free guide on how impact investing through Neurodiversity inclusion yields results.