The DLI blog

Announcement

Dear subscriber,

we have moved our blog across to our main website at https://disabilityleaders.com.au/ under the news section.

Articles will be published there regularly, including our new post for this month.

Thank you for following us here over the years.

Allies

Allies of disability leaders step back out of the way.

When asked outright, most people would claim to be allies for disabled people. Yet in practice it seems that very few are.

One of the most intractable and widespread experiences for disability leaders is the power imbalance in our daily lives. There are so few disabled people in senior positions which means a constant requirement to work within the boundaries and expectations set by others.

“This is really a five day job, doing it in four is going to be impossible.”

“Can you stay back to get this done? We all need to put in extra effort.”

“I worked ridiculous hours to get here, I expect my team to do the same.”

Then:

“Yes, diversity is great, lets make sure we have more people with disability on our team.”

Except, there won’t be more disabled people on your team if you expect them to think and act as you do. Disability means diversity, and that means different.

Expectations that everyone on your team will operate the same way with the same hours and the same work style will override any diversity present because you are expecting everyone to be a clone of you.

When asked outright, people think they are being supportive and inclusive, yet any expectation that disabled people will think and act as you do is ableism. It is exclusive. It creates an unsafe workplace for disabled people if they need to ask for adjustments or flexibility. It often results in bullying.

Allies recognise that people, all people, are not robots. We all work differently, have different optimum operational times, different flexibility requirements, and different lives. Every member of every team will need different adjustments so that they can work to their best and be in a safe environment for them.

Allies recognise that their roles as team leaders, supervisors and executive staff means they need to step up to initiate flexibility and create safe environments. Waiting for the less powerful person to ask is perpetuating the power imbalance.

Allies step back and listen.

Allies know they cannot know the disability experience and turn to those with expertise.

Allies foreground the voices of disabled people.

Allies never take senior appointments over competent disabled people, rather they ask “where are the disability leaders, appoint one over me” and step away to create space.

Allies get out of the way.

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Christina Ryan is the CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute, which provides professional development and support for disability leaders. She identifies as a disabled person.

Speaking for ourselves

disabled people remain outsiders in our own field

Unlike other diversity groups, disabled people remain outsiders in our own field. We are rarely turned to for leadership or decision making about disability, across all sectors, while “lived experience” is considered so invaluable to leadership and decision making that the meaning of it has been adjusted to include almost anyone who is related to a disabled person.

This devaluing of the experience of being disabled as an area of expertise, particularly in recruitment processes and in representative work, perpetuates the lack of disability leadership. Additionally, governments continue to fund or preference organisations which talk the talk, but do not walk the walk of disability diversity and leadership.

The substantial levels of rhetoric about disability diversity, including the setting of employment targets or quotas, will never become reality while there continues to be a shortfall in the appointment of disability leaders to key positions.

There is little Disability Leadership going round. The Commonwealth Public Service has only 5 openly disabled people at senior executive level.

There are 4 openly disabled people right across all 9 of Australia’s parliaments making it impossible to have ministers or spokespeople who are disabled.

The NDIS doesn’t have much in the way of disability leadership in its board or executive, and Offices for Disability right across Australia have very few disabled people.

Disability services are almost entirely run by non-disabled people. Few have disabled people in their management teams (16%) and only a handful have disabled people (7%) on their boards.

Most disturbingly, our advocacy and representative organisations are largely run by non-disabled people, with several having a succession of non-disabled CEOs and executive staff despite disabled candidates being on offer.

On top of this, a study conducted by recruitment company PageGroup in December 2021 found that almost a quarter (22%) of business leaders say they are unlikely to hire candidates with known disabilities. It appears this reluctance is as present in disability related organisations as it is in non-disability related fields.

When a new Ministry of Disabled People was established in New Zealand, the disability rights community rejected the appointment of a non-disabled person as its CEO and a further recruitment process had to be undertaken. Similar expectations on disability leadership exist in the United States, yet in Australia it remains acceptable to have non-disabled people providing disability specialist expertise and implementing disability policy and services.

Recent conversations amongst Disability Leadership Institute (DLI) members have illustrated the critical need for the leaders of disability focused organisations and agencies to be disabled people. It appears that those organisations which should be exemplars of disability employment, and which should provide the safest environments for us to work in, the ones that are disability specific and purport to represent us or provide expertise or services about us, are sometimes the most ableist in their employment practices.

These organisations continue to recruit using merit based exclusionary practices, and despite having the opportunity to appoint disability leaders they appoint non-disabled people (the DLI has multiple stories from unsuccessful candidates).

It is these organisations which should be providing a career pathway for disability leaders to more mainstream opportunities. Yet few have strong disability leadership and even fewer have succession plans which will produce further disability leaders.

The DLI continues to hear stories from disability leaders which tell of unsafe workplaces and of being passed over for non-disabled people. This must cease.

Organisations which purport to speak for disabled people, or purport to provide expertise or services in disability, must be run by disabled people.

Sign up for regular updates from the Disability Leadership Institute. 

Christina Ryan is the CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute, which provides professional development and support for disability leaders. She identifies as a disabled person.

The need for leaders who work differently

disability leaders do leadership differently, and the NDIS desperately needs a different style of leadership

Being disabled should be a primary selection criterion for appointments to the chair or the CEO of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). They should be “identified” positions.

This isn’t only about having a disability perspective, about understanding the experience of marginalisation, discrimination and oppression, although that is critically important. It is also about the symbolic importance of having “one of us” inside the NDIS at the very top, making key decisions about how the NDIS supports disabled people to live our lives, and providing the primary guidance for this major disability reform. Having a CEO and chair with disability is fundamentally about being able to trust that the NDIS is working with us and for us.

Another reason that disabled people should be appointed to these key positions is because disability leaders do leadership differently, and the NDIS desperately needs a different style of leadership.

The NDIS has developed an undesirable reputation amongst disabled people for many reasons: it has trouble retaining disabled staff, the disability community has lost trust in the Scheme following a concerted program of cutting individual plans, and its CEOs have developed a reputation for leaving abruptly.

Disability leadership is now crucial because disability leaders are more innovative, have high level skills in being inclusive, and are naturally collaborative and it is these qualities which will support the significant cultural reform required to get the NDIS back on track. More of the same is not what is needed – we cannot continue to hit the same nail with a bigger and bigger hammer hoping for a different outcome.

The NDIS needs significant cultural reform so that it provides an holistic participant experience, rather than a wall of bureaucracy. The NDIS also needs significant internal reform so that it attracts and retains its staff, particularly those with disabilities. These reforms require people who know disability intimately, who are disabled and have experience as leaders, and who are trusted by the disability community to be competent for the task that is ahead.

This is not a job for those outside the disability community. Those who have confidence but not the competence in working with disabled people (Deloitte Insight 2019). Many people claim to have the confidence to engage with disabled people, but real expertise resides only in disability leaders. They are the people who understand how to build systems that support disability engagement, rather than block it. This is not a generic quality residing in all disabled people, but it is a common quality across disabled people who operate as leaders. Disability leaders are the only ones who can provide all the required skills and expertise.

Turning the NDIS around, to fulfil the vision that we all held for it, will require a level of competence that is yet to be applied in this position. This is the change that is required, and it is why the next CEO and chair of the NDIS can and should be disabled people, because only people with disability can do all these things.

But where are the disability leaders to appoint? A recent conversation amongst experienced Disability Leadership Institute members identified within moments at least 10 eligible disability leaders who have both the competence and experience to be the next NDIS CEO. A subsequent conversation identified several dozen more who have the competence and experience to be the next chair of the National Disability Insurance Agency.

Additionally, disability leaders work more collaboratively, so the new NDIS CEO will have the capacity and style to gather around them an executive leadership team of highly competent disability leaders to support them in their role. People with expertise in disability, in the nuances of ensuring a workable Scheme which supports disabled people, while they also build an internal culture that leads the way in disability employment.

Sign up for regular updates from the Disability Leadership Institute. 

Christina Ryan is the CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute, which provides professional development and support for disability leaders. She identifies as a disabled person.

The other side of disability confidence

Why should disabled people work for your organisation? What’s in it for us?

Organisations are increasingly seeking disabled people to build their workforce diversity. Finally, after decades of invisibility, disabled people are featuring in diversity data, and in conversations about diverse workplaces. Occasionally, there are also organisations talking disability leadership and working out how to build their ranks of disabled decision makers.

The conversations still seem to be one sided though; focusing on how many disabled people are present, how big the disability employee network is, or what awards the organisation has received for employing disabled people in increasing numbers. In other words, from the perspective of the benefits to the organisation.

Its time to flip the coin and examine disability confidence through a reverse lens: why should disabled people work for your organisation? What’s in it for us?

Working to build an inclusive culture, with strong staff retention and a reputation for being a good employer, will be illustrated through more than the numbers of disabled people present.

Every organisation the Disability Leadership Institute talks to reports the same figures; the numbers of people openly identifying as disabled is around half the numbers that report disability in anonymous internal workforce surveys. A key measurement for organisations that want a reputation as an employer of choice is to close this gap. People don’t openly identify as disabled because they don’t feel safe.

Only a small percentage of the total disability population will need workplace adjustments and will, therefore, need to be open about their disability. The majority don’t disclose because they don’t have to. Particularly when doing so can be detrimental to their career and their sense of workplace safety. Once disabled people feel safe in a workplace they will be open about their disability.

Closing the figures between openly identifying disabled people and those reporting as disabled in anonymous survey data is a key metric for organisations to track.

A further indicator of an inclusive culture is disability staff retention. Organisations may report having strong numbers of disabled people in their workforce, but how many of those people are there for the long haul? Tracking individual disability staff retention is a fast way to understanding if people feel comfortable being a disabled person in that workplace. There are a number of organisations that have developed an unfortunate reputation within the disability community for having a revolving door for disabled people. Over time this will become detrimental to those organisations achieving diverse recruitment. Such reputations are hard to lose once they have been gained.

Studies indicate that disabled people receive less professional development than colleagues they work alongside. Some organisations focus their professional development budgets towards more senior positions. With disabled people rarely in those more senior positions, this can also contribute to less professional development for disabled people. Organisations should be tracking levels of professional development offered to ensure their disability workforce is afforded the same access to learning and development as all other staff. When people feel devalued or undervalued by their employer they start to look for employment elsewhere, and disabled people are no different. Consistently missing out on development opportunities can be interpreted as a regular message that “you aren’t what we are looking for.”

A final measure to track is the presence of leadership pathways. How many disabled people are being promoted? Is there evidence of them moving into leadership and decision making roles? Are there increasing levels of diversity at executive and management levels, or do they remain the domain of non-disabled people? It is one thing to have a growing number of disabled staff in entry level positions, but few organisations can demonstrate strong numbers beyond the middle management level. The concrete ceiling is alive and well.

These three key metrics can provide greater insight into disability diversity within organisations: the gap between openly identifying disabled people and those identifying anonymously, disability staff retention, and numbers of disability leaders.

It is hard to understand how disability confident an organisation is without robust measures designed to illustrate the value they place on disabled people and disability leadership. When measuring disability diversity a good starting point is working to understand what an organisation is doing for disabled people and why disability leaders would want to work for them. Without that, it is just more numbers.

Sign up for regular updates from the Disability Leadership Institute. 

Christina Ryan is the CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute, which provides professional development and support for disability leaders. She identifies as a disabled person.

Where are they now?

Where are all the disability leaders who have already been trained?

In 2016 the Disability Leadership Institute undertook the first national survey of disability leaders. One specific finding was that the majority of leaders had undertaken training but the training did not assist in achieving leadership or representative opportunities.

When noting the lack of disabled people in leadership positions, governments and others often assume that there are no suitably trained or experienced leaders to be appointed. This leads to the announcement of further training or scholarships programs. While scholarships are vital to disabled people, many of whom live on low incomes, without those scholarships resulting in career outcomes they lose significant value.

Where are all the disability leaders who have already been trained? Over several decades these training and scholarship programs have produced many many leaders able to be appointed to boards or executive roles, yet there remains a noticeable lack of disability leaders in board and executive positions across all sectors.

Endless training is not producing the desired outcomes. Neither is hoping for the best and relying on goodwill.

It is time to introduce quotas or specific targets, and to also introduce identified positions. In the same way that gender targets have been used to increase gender diversity on boards and in leadership teams and identified positions have been used to ensure First Nations peoples have been placed in leadership positions particularly when related to work about First Nations communities, specific measures are required to increase the levels of disability leadership.

A national audit of disability leaders is also needed to ascertain what training has been undertaken, with longitudinal tracking data to identify what outcomes training has achieved and whether it is leading to career progression for disability leaders.

With several decades worth of trained leaders available, there is no shortage of people available to support the numbers targets would demand. Neither is there a lack of leaders in the pipeline to follow on from the few existing appointments.

More training and scholarships are a simplistic solution to the lack of disability leaders on boards and executive teams. Without being accompanied by targets or quotas, with benchmark timeframes, there is no guarantee that appointments will be made. The experiences of other diversity groups illustrate that targets and timeframes achieve results, yet few exist designed to increase disability leadership.

The Doing It Differently report noted lower levels of professional development offered to disabled people, and a lack of career progression resulting from a continuing prejudice about the capabilities of disability leaders.

Unlike other diversity groups, disabled people are rarely offered disability specific professional development. While there are specific programs for women, Indigenous peoples, and culturally diverse people, disabled people are expected to succeed by accessing only mainstream programs.

Disability leaders report numerous access and attitude barriers in mainstream programs which often result in them leaving before graduation (sometimes they are unable to even commence). Those undertaking programs at the Disability Leadership Institute regularly report on how unusual it is for them to find professional development opportunities which allow them to focus on their development, rather than on advocating for access, or masking while constantly explaining their disability.

Equality of access to professional development, including training, introducing leadership targets or quotas, and longitudinal tracking data to ascertain career progression and training outcomes, will provide a more holistic response to the lack of leadership diversity. A consistent approach to disability leadership has been absent from policy and program responses by governments and organisations to date yet is what is required to make the difference.

More training and scholarship programs are useful, but they won’t provide appointments for the myriad of disability leaders who have already acquired qualifications and who continue to miss out on being appointed to boards and executive positions.

The National Register of Disability Leaders offers an Australia wide listing service to get your vacant positions in front of talented and competent disabled people across a wide range of fields.

Sign up for regular updates from the Disability Leadership Institute. 

Christina Ryan is the CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute, which provides professional development and support for disability leaders. She identifies as a disabled person

Getting Inclusive

Traditional recruitment and retention methods need reshaping to suit disability leaders.

Addressing the barriers to finding disability leaders.

Addressing barriers to the way organisations find disability leaders is an important first step. Identifying the right networks, naming barriers, being open to flexibility options, and tagging internal talent will assist in increasing the numbers of disability leaders organisations have within their talent pool.

Equally as important is flipping those barriers into being inclusive, so that organisations might one day rely on their traditional recruitment and retention methods to improve the levels of disability leadership within their ranks, rather than have parallel processes requiring additional pathways.

Perhaps there are few disability leaders present because the traditional recruitment and retention methods are not being actively reshaped to ensure that they can be present.  

Networks – stepping outside to the networks where disabled people are is necessary now, because existing networks are often exclusive. Longer term; turn your network into an inclusive and diverse network. Disability leaders report joining the “right” networks, only to be overlooked for invitations, or left out of conversations during networking events. Many traditional longstanding networks come from backgrounds where there are few disabled people, so increasing the numbers of disabled people in those backgrounds will slowly build the numbers of disabled people in the traditional networks. Many networks operate on existing members mentoring new talent and introducing them into the network, so a conscious commitment by longstanding members to also mentor and introduce disabled people will have an impact.

Barriers – deliberately target disability talent when recruiting. Consciously wanting to increase the numbers of disability leaders in board and leadership positions, as speakers for conferences, as candidates for political parties, will help change the mindset of recruiters. Make sure your organisation is asking its recruiters to list disability leaders amongst candidates for all positions. Going to disability leaders, rather than waiting for them to come to you, and ensuring that their needs are met by saying yes automatically, will also send a strong message of inclusion. Say yes, then work out a solution, rather than expecting disability leaders to identify barriers and lobby to fix them in order to apply.

Flexibility – be open to making change. Leading edge marketing methods listen to consumers and service users so that solutions are built with the target market in mind. Flexibility means building systems and processes that disability leaders will find attractive; systems and processes which assume that each user is unique and requires an unique solution, whether its how work is done, the types of working conditions and entitlements, or the structure of registration and application processes. The old ways of doing things might be the barrier preventing disability leaders from applying, so change them.

Look within – celebrate and promote internal disabled talent. When disability leaders know they are seen and valued for their diversity, they will be more open about being disabled, and more likely to stay with organisations long term. When disability leaders see other disability leaders being celebrated, promoted, valued and offered development opportunities, they will feel safer being openly disabled particularly if those disability leaders are hold senior positions in their organisation.

Organisations, networks and recruiters have the power to remove the barriers to disability leadership, by recognising that many long standing barriers are real, and then taking responsibility for making an open and conscious commitment to change.

The National Register of Disability Leaders offers an Australia wide listing service to get your vacant positions in front of talented and competent disabled people across a wide range of fields.

Sign up for regular updates from the Disability Leadership Institute. 

Christina Ryan is the CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute, which provides professional development and support for disability leaders. She identifies as a disabled person

Barriers to Finding Disability Leaders

Rolling out more training programs won’t address the lack of disability leaders.

A common misconception amongst those searching for disability talent is that there are no disabled people to be found. This is often addressed by governments, and others, rolling out more and more training and scholarship programs for disabled people.

Yet, where are all the people who have already done these programs? Despite the number of programs delivered over several decades there remains a significant shortage of disabled people in boardrooms, on executive teams, and in positions of responsibility and decision making. Rather than assuming there is a shortage of disability leadership, it seems there are other reasons for why disability talent isn’t being found.

Hot tip: the Disability Leadership Institute (DLI) knows that there are plenty of disabled people ready for appointment at all levels. Rather, the barriers lie in how organisations are searching.

As organisations seek disability leaders, they might consider the following methods to improve their results:

Networks – disabled people are unlikely to be in the networks that organisations have traditionally used to recruit new talent to their boards and executive teams. Persisting with existing networks will result in finding non-disabled talent similar to the talent found before. Step outside existing networks to those where disabled people are more likely to be, for example the DLI.

Barriers – very few organisations set out to create barriers to recruitment. Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, access barriers during a recruitment process will send a message that an organisation is not serious about recruiting disabled talent. The wording of ads, willingness to provide adjustments throughout recruitment, design of positions, and methods of onboarding, all send messages to prospective talent about how inclusive an organisation is. Once an organisation gains a poor reputation very few disabled people will attempt to engage with it a second time.

Flexibility – organisations which insist that recruitment and employment must be done a certain way are automatically excluding disabled people. There is no one size fits all in disability, with as many solutions required as there are disabled people. Organisations that become deft at listening and accommodating how disabled people want, and need, to work will be better placed to draw on the full range of talent on offer and retain that talent once it is found.

Look within – assuming that disabled people are all at entry level requiring substantial training, development and mentoring will not address the lack of disabled talent at board and executive level. Focusing on providing career pathways by openly fast tracking and promoting high potential disabled talent will produce solid results. Disabled people are already in organisations, often hiding in plain sight, or being overlooked based on assumptions about the impact of their disability on their work. Finding senior disabled talent can be as simple as starting with the talent that is already there.

While training, scholarship and mentoring programs are always welcome, they should not be offered as a way of addressing a lack of talent. Highly competent disabled talent already exists that is not being deployed in the numbers that it should be.

The National Register of Disability Leaders offers an Australia wide listing service to get your vacant positions in front of talented and competent disabled people across a wide range of fields.

Sign up for regular updates from the Disability Leadership Institute. 

Christina Ryan is the CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute, which provides professional development and support for disability leaders. She identifies as a disabled person

Finding disabled people

Disability leaders are already with you.

The Disability Leadership Institute’s most frequently asked question by organisations and recruiters is “where do we find disabled people? We can’t get them to apply for our vacancies.”

Many employers seem unaware that disabled people are already with you.

Most large employers undertake annual surveys of their workforce to understand demographics, pressure issues, and professional development needs. Usually, these surveys are undertaken anonymously, so that employees can be frank and speak about matters that they might usually feel uncomfortable openly raising.

Internal workforce surveys consistently show a much higher rate of disability employment than the official figures, which are based on who openly identifies as disabled. When employers are looking to increase their disability employment levels, the first place they can start looking is within to the people who already know your structures, culture, vision, and priorities.

Strong anecdotal evidence collected by the Disability Leadership Institute over several years indicates that it is very risky to openly identify as disabled in the workplace. It is particularly risky the more senior people are. It seems that the people who openly identify as disabled in the workplace are the small percentage who have no option to do otherwise. These are people who require specific workplace adjustments or have disabilities that are visibly evident.

For those who can conceal their disability, or substantially minimise it, the benefits of doing so outweigh the existing risks. Even though hiding it can cause negative consequences over time, such as mental health unwellness or aggravation of conditions, it still seems the preferred choice over the stigma and bullying that many openly disabled people experience.

Knowing that you already have a much larger disabled workforce available to you is just the beginning. The next step is to create a workplace where your disabled employees feel safe being open about their disability.

A good way to start this culture change is to address the lack of disabled people in leadership positions within the organisation. When it is understood that there is a career path, that disabled people are valued for their expertise, and are part of the power structure of the organisation; then it becomes more attractive to be a disabled person in that workplace.

Use the existing assets you have. Support them, value them, and embrace the culture shift that disability diversity will bring. Your road to becoming a disability employer of choice is underway.

The National Register of Disability Leaders also offers an Australia wide listing service to get your vacant positions in front of talented and competent disabled people across a wide range of fields.

Sign up for regular updates from the Disability Leadership Institute. 

Christina Ryan is the CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute, which provides professional development and support for disability leaders. She identifies as a disabled person

From the room next door

Disabled people are consigned to the room next door.

Disability leadership happens in the rooms next door.

Few disabled people are in positions of power and decision making; we rarely sit on the boards, in the parliaments, or on the executive teams, even when disability is the central issue being discussed. Disability leaders are consigned to advisory groups and must tap politely on the door to be heard, waiting for the moment when it suits those inside.

Recently, Disability Leadership Institute members have been discussing anger and being angry. It seems many of us are angry a lot of the time. Being angry is a natural consequence of being constantly marginalised and told you do not belong, you don’t fit. Anger is also what happens when we see injustice all around us.

We tap politely on the door and ask to be remembered:

– when pandemic plans are being formulated;

– when vaccination is being rolled out;

– when we require adjustments at work;

– we tap politely so that we can participate equally in meetings; and,

– when policy about our services is being designed.

Yet we are consistently ignored, told others know best, or just forgotten.

Disability leaders consistently see non-disabled people speaking for us; we notice the issues we raise are not listened to; and we see disabled people being harmed or dying because of gaps in policy and action. DLI members have talked about becoming angry, and then being told to be polite, to be nice when raising critical issues, otherwise we will not be listened to.

Denying the anger of someone is a way of shutting them down. It is a form of silencing. It has become a tool of the privileged inside the room, used to marginalise those who are outside. Rather than show leadership by listening to anger, and understand the causes of that anger, those in power and authority close inward and suggest we are emotional or hysterical. Our anger is turned back upon us as a weakness that proves we are incapable of leadership or clarity.

Anger is not aggression, nor is being angry rude. We are told we should not be angry, yet it is only when we become angry that our experience of discrimination and marginalisation becomes clear to others. Our anger is rejected and silenced by those who have marginalised our voices and our expertise. The privilege of rejecting anger belongs to those who get to decide what is listened to and what is not. These are unlikely to be disabled people because disabled people are rarely in positions of power and authority. Disabled people are consigned to the room next door.

Why should disability leaders be silent about the levels of violence we see, or about being forgotten in pandemic policy, or being deprioritised in the vaccination rollout, or when poor government policy is imposed upon us, or when we are overlooked for senior appointments yet again?

Being angry does not mean being rude, although it is sometimes interpreted this way. Being angry does not mean being aggressive, although it is often interpreted this way by those we are raising issues with. Being angry does not mean being destructive, although we are often trying to deconstruct systems of oppression when expressing anger.

Disability leaders are highly constructive about being angry about violence, marginalisation, oppression, and the deaths of members of our community through poor policy or inaction. We are experts in using our anger to make a difference; recognising its impact and making it count. We are experts in being polite about being in the room next door, left out of decision making with our expertise unrecognised. Anger has become a necessary part of how we do leadership.

Our anger can make others uncomfortable, but it is through our anger that those in positions of power and authority (the people inside the room) realise that we do not accept what they are saying, or the consequences of leaving us in the room next door. We do not accept their discrimination. Our anger threatens their power and authority, it reminds them that their decisions are poor, and their expertise is lacking.

This anger will not subside until we no longer need to tap politely on the door, until we are part of decision making and policy development, until we sit inside the rooms of power and authority. Until we are equal.

Sign up for regular updates from the Disability Leadership Institute. 

Christina Ryan is the CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute, which provides professional development and support for disability leaders. She identifies as a disabled person