Inclusion and Creativity for All: Adobe celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Diverse group of business people meeting in office lobby with focus on young woman in wheelchair sharing ideas.

Image Source: Adobe Stock/Seventyfour.

Today, we kick off National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), another important milestone that commemorates the many varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. At Adobe, we’re celebrating the month globally with several events and activities including fireside chats with disability inclusion experts and amplifying diverse voices through employee storytelling.

At Adobe, we believe that everyone deserves equal treatment and opportunity regardless of disability, gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background, religious beliefs, or anything else that makes us who we are. When people feel appreciated and included, they can be more creative, innovative, and successful. We call this vision Adobe For All.

Amplifying diverse voices at Adobe

During Adobe For All Week, our annual global diversity & inclusion event, we heard inspiring stories from guest speakers and employees from around the world. We also heard from senior leaders who spoke about the progress Adobe is making to help foster a more inclusive, innovative, and successful workplace.

The event featured amazing, powerful perspectives from Adobe employees who shared their own unique stories and experiences pushing for creativity and inclusion awareness, including:

  1. Lauren Gardner, Senior Program Manager, Experience & Engagement, Ottawa: Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, and a genetic disorder that affected how they walked and looked, Lauren shared their story of growing up in Nova Scotia, Canada, where they experienced years of bullying and difficulty expressing themself. Lauren shared their journey to becoming an advocate for inclusivity and fairness for everyone. “Here’s what I’d love for you to think about: Can you help everyone get the chance to speak at a meeting, not just those with the loudest voices? Can you spend some time thinking about how to make our workplaces safer and more accessible for those with disabilities? Can you make waves? Every time you do it means the world to someone like me.”
  1. Rakesh Paladugula, product manager, Accessibility, India: At 16, Rakesh was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that eventually caused blindness. Since then, he has learned to see the world differently. He shared his journey to becoming an advocate for digital accessibility and people with disabilities along the way. “People with disabilities are people, they want the same things in life as you would like: love, respect and career access. Take a moment to ask your colleagues how you can support them, don’t be afraid to talk about their disabilities and take a moment to look beyond those disabilities and see the people and who we are.”
  1. Shubham Garg, Sr. quality analyst, Customer Experience, Noida: After polio left him with limited mobility, Shubham shared his story of confidence and courage to pursue his dreams and the mindset that helps him be successful. He also shared his experience of grief and how universal love and connection is helping him and his family to heal. “I want to share my story because even when hard things happen, there is still so much beauty in this life – there is still music, dance, laughter and joy. I am hopeful that my children will someday be able to do things they love, things that spark their imagination and fill their souls. And no matter what anyone says, keep dancing!”
  1. Cole Stewart, customer enablement engineer, Acrobat, San Jose: Cole is a biracial man who lives with a disability and chronic pain. He shared his unique perspective about how changes in his physical appearance over time enabled him to experience living life as two different races and how those insights shape his life today.
  1. Sipan Asatryan, quality engineer, Digital Experience, Yerevan: Visually impaired since childhood, Sipan shared his story of growing up in Armenia and his quest for independence. He revealed how sports, dance, and parenthood have enriched his journey and powered his belief that anything is possible. “When you meet someone with a disability, take the time to get to know the person. We may have learned to live with challenges you don’t face, but at the core we are all the same, and you have the power to accept us just as we are.”

On October 7th, we’ll also host a fireside chat with Adobe’s VP of brand marketing, John Travis, and renowned disability inclusion expert, Andraéa LaVant, who will discuss the importance of inviting, engaging, and valuing the unique experiences and perspectives of people with disabilities. The candid session with Andraéa and John will address stigmas around intersectional experiences of people with disabilities, offering insights into building a more inclusive and connected company culture, and answer questions from Adobe employees related to disability inclusion.

Image of renowned disability inclusion expert, Andraéa LaVant.

Andraéa LaVant, President and Chief Inclusion Specialist at LaVant Consulting.

To recognize World Mental Health Day, the Access at Adobe employee network is hosting a panel with special guest, Haley Moss, a mental health and neurodiversity advocate. The panel participants will open up about challenging stigmas, the importance of breaking down barriers and creating a culture of support.

Haley Moss, a mental health and neurodiversity advocate.

“Every year, the United States recognizes this special month and at Adobe, we expand that celebration globally to help acknowledge the tremendous impact people with disabilities have on global business, politics, science, technology, and the workplace. National Disability Employment Awareness Month is all about how we can foster a culture where everyone can do their best work in a safe environment where they can express their ideas and more importantly, express themselves freely”, shares Govind Balakrishnan, senior vice president of creative cloud services and executive sponsor for the Access at Adobe employee network.

Fostering an inclusive culture at Adobe

As most of us have adjusted to a remote work environment, we’ve made it a priority at Adobe that employees feel supported and included along the way. This means ensuring that we evaluate our accessibility and inclusion initiatives to fit with our remote, hybrid work environment. To do so, we’ve improved how we’re continuing to raise awareness on disability inclusion and elevating the voices of Adobe employees with disabilities., These improvements include:

  1. Supporting individuals with disabilities through our involvement with The Valuable 500, a movement that calls for disabilities to be put on the business agenda to ignite systemic change for the 1.3 billion people living with disabilities around the world. Additionally, we were included in Disability:IN’s Disability Equality Index as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion.
  2. In our Adobe India office, the Talent Acquisition team launched an internship program to recruit people with disabilities. Working in close partnership with the Access at Adobe India employee network, we leveraged members’ experience and enthusiasm to position this initiative for success. We are pleased to share that this year’s Adobe India intern class includes several students with locomotor disabilities. Hiring university talent is a great way to bring people with disabilities into the workforce early on.
  3. For virtual meetings, we enable captioning to help make remote work more accessible – we ensured that closed captioning and transcription is available for meetings so everyone can participate, including employees who have trouble hearing, speak a different language natively, or just benefit from a written record of discussions.

What’s next? Adobe’s continued journey to inclusion and Creativity for All

It has certainly been an eventful year, one filled with inspiring stories and strides in cultivating an inclusive culture at Adobe. But the work doesn’t stop here. We’re continually working year-round to make progress in our inclusion efforts, as well as elevating the voices of employees with disabilities and emphasizing the importance of their diverse perspectives to help Adobe strive for inclusion and creativity for all.

We will continue to share more on these important stories and initiatives throughout the year, including more information about upcoming accessibility initiatives, features and events.

For those that are interested, learn more about how to participate in NDEAM, both during October and throughout the year.