Efforts to increase employment of people with disabilities are immensely important, but they need to consider initiatives to develop corporate leaders. Research and anecdotalevidence have shown that the tone set at the top determines the inclusivity in an organization. In addition, authenticity via disclosure has been shown to make senior leaders more effective as well as offer role models for others within and outside their organization. To accelerate the wheel of inclusion, it is vital that a pipeline of future leaders with disabilities is developed.
A Canadian not-for-profit, the Access to Success Organization, has founded a unique initiative to build the next generation of corporate leaders with disabilities. Launched by four former students at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Access to Success supports Master of Business Administration (MBA) students who identify as having a disability. MBA is considered a gateway to leadership roles. By supporting MBA students, encouraging them to be visible as role models, and conducting groundbreaking research on disability inclusion in MBA schools, Access to Success is building a pipeline of future executives who will champion and promote disability inclusion in their organizations. Three of Canada’s leading business schools, Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, Ivey Business School at Western University and Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto have joined the Access to Fellowship program in building a pipeline of inclusive leaders.
Disclosure: Florence Chapman is the former CEO of Canadian Business SenseAbility and an independent board member of the Access to Success Organization.