An Inclusive Work Environment is Crucial for Those with Disabilities
Steve Adubato talks with Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion at Prudential Financial, Inc., Kam Wong, about the importance of raising awareness around hiring people with disabilities. Ms. Wong also believes it is important to create an inclusive work environment where individuals feel like they can bring their “authentic self” to work.
"Hi, I'm Steve Adubato. It is my pleasure to introduce, for the first time with us, Kam Wong, who is the Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion, Prudential Financial Inc. Good to see you Kam. Thank you. Likewise. Let's talk about the issue of disabilities, and the fact that there was a major event in Newark that we'll be showing some video of, that was historic in many ways. Describe it. Yeah, so we were very excited at Prudential to host our Disability Awareness Celebration in Military Park on October 18th. And basically what we did was we brought this amazing first ever Disability Rights Museum on Wheels. Hold on. The Disability Rights Museum on Wheels? Museum on Wheels. Exactly. It's a 48 foot trailer that's pulled by a truck. And within this trailer is a curated exhibit of the progress, the movement for civil rights, for people with disabilities. So... Okay, make it clear to us. Sure. Civil rights for people with disabilities? Right. For example? So, unfortunately it started with the dark times, with eugenics and forced sterilization and institutionalization of people with disabilities. And then marching through time, where there had been the fight, and the struggle, for equal access and equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Including a time in the 80's where wheelchair users, and people using canes, you know, abandoned them, and literally crawled up the steps of the Capitol Building to really be visible and not be, you know, secreted and hidden away. To fight for their right to education, to access and public places. I mean our country, even as recent as the 1970's, had what was called "ugly laws". Hold on, wait. Ugly... Ugly laws? Ugly laws. Yes. Sure. What does that mean? So, these laws, in many states, until the mid 1970's, allowed public establishments like restaurants to turn away someone because they were "unsightly" because they, you know, didn't look as the restaurant might want them to look. They could turn them away? They can turn them away. Legally? Legally. And they could be arrested even. And... The person? Yes. The person can be kicked out of the establishment. Yeah, so a restaurant can call up the police... Right. ...to escort the person physically away. Okay, so I don't want to say "fast forward" because I think that's such an inappropriate expression right now. But if we were to talk about the progress we've made... Right. ...how would you describe where we are today? So I would say we've made good progress, but it's not nearly where it needs to be. What are we missing? So I think the future state..."