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Focusing
on a positive impact

Let’s be truly inclusive, rather than #DIVERSish!

By Ciara McManus

Last month, I had the privilege of attending the One Young World (OYW) Summit in London, as part of the Johnson & Johnson delegation. The OYW Summit was the most international event hosted in the UK since the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games, welcoming 2,000+ delegates from over 190 countries.

I had watched highlight videos from previous years, so I thought I knew what to expect, but this Summit is far more than the sum of its parts. The OYW Summit not only brings together young leaders from all corners of the globe to accelerate social impact, but it deeply and forever changes you as a person. My eyes are open and will never be closed.

Yeonmi ParkHuman Rights Activist & North Korean defector, bravely spoke about her personal experience of modern-day slavery and reminded us that:

“Freedom is not something you can take for granted – it is the most precious thing you can have”

Every moment of the OYW Summit was filled with stories of courage that could inspire and motivate, and certainly make you cry. And then… sometimes… motivation could be found in a seemingly unlikely place.

Dr. Rüdiger RecknagelChief Environmental Officer at Audi & Managing Director of the Audi Environmental Foundation, spoke about his passion for the environment, but offered some sage advice for any change maker, regardless of their passion:

“Never stop being positive, never stop fighting, never stop being focused, never stop listening”

I’m passionate about Diversity & Inclusion, and more specifically Disability Inclusion. My father, sister-in-law, and I all have physical disabilities. All different, with their own challenges. I know we each have skills, opinions, and value, but it’s not always apparent if everyone else is aware of that too…

For me, inspiration was found in the words of two incredible women, Caroline CaseyFounder of The Valuable 500, and Sinéad BurkeEducator, Advocate, and host of the podcast ‘As Me with Sinéad’. Both Caroline and Sinéad made me feel empowered to speak up for myself, for others like me, and for those not always included in certain conversations. Our perspective matters!

“The day for hiding who we are is over… we have to tear apart what separates us, so we all belong equally.” – Caroline Casey

“Inclusivity needs to happen at all levels… Take up room” – Sinéad Burke

Going forward, I’m driven more than ever to put Disability on everyone’s agenda, and I feel lucky to work for a company who will support me in achieving that. In J&J, we have many types of Employee Resources Groups (ERG). One of those ERGs is the Alliance for Diverse Abilities (ADA), which has three pillars – Autism & Neurodiversity, Mental Health, and Disability. ADA is dedicated to actively shaping a culture of belonging for people with diverse abilities, as well as for their caregivers and advocates. In June, I became an ADA Lead and launched the ADA ERG at my site, running events and campaigns, such as Suicide Awareness and Mental Health.

Now, I plan to increase employee engagement with people with various disabilities in our local community. Through collaborative, inclusive programs, such as work placements for Secondary School students who have disabilities, we can make lasting change. This increased employee engagement will advance awareness of, and empathy with, people with disabilities, and will help to promote our site as an inclusive workplace. The hope is that this will lead to a workforce that reflects all people in our community, and ensure we are not #DIVERSish!

Finally, I want to thank the J&J OYW Program team who highlighted the importance of building resiliency for a domino effect of change. This year, the J&J theme at the OYW Summit was “Resiliency For Change: Adapt, Recover, Grow”:

  • Adapt = Refine and change your plans based on what you know is and isn’t working.
  • Recover = Overcome and move beyond challenges while maintaining your physical, mental, and emotional health.
  • Grow = Learn from your experiences, gain new information, and use it to bounce back from adverse events.

The J&J OYW Program team recognised that resiliency enables all of us to overcome challenges and best serve our communities, society and the world. This is vital. The more resilient I am, the better able I’ll be to help others.

So let’s adaptrecover, and grow INCLUSIVELY!

Beir bua agus beannacht,

Ciara