We’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) this month. Can you talk a bit about how the ADA has helped pave the path toward equity for everyone, regardless of ability?
It’s unbelievable to step back and realize the ADA – a civil rights act that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities – was signed into law only 30 years ago this July. And when you think about all the active conversation around the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s clear we still have a long way to go to truly achieve equity for everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation or ability. The 30th anniversary of the ADA is a time to celebrate the progress we’ve made towards disability inclusion, but it’s also important that we recognize more work must be done.
At T-Mobile, we know it’s our diverse and passionate workforce that makes us the best at what we do. In observance of the ADA this year, T-Mobile’s Access for Disabilities Network is putting in the work, sharing resources and educating employees about how they can contribute to a more inclusive and accessible workplace.
Can you tell us more about the mission behind T-Mobile’s Access for Disabilities Network and your role as co-chair?
T-Mobile’s Access for Disabilities Network (ADN) is one of the company’s six employee resource groups. With over 11,500 members nationwide, we’re committed to creating a place where each of us can perform to our best ability in a supportive work environment.
I’ve been on the ADN board for the last three years. As vice-chair and now as co-chair of the ADN, I’m a champion for people with intellectual and physical disabilities and an advocate for their inclusion in the workplace and community. Whether it’s standing up for workplace accommodations or raising awareness for disabilities like mental health or autism – ADN is helping make an impact within our community.
My ultimate goal is to “disable the label” and foster a work environment where employees can broaden their understanding and awareness of the many unique talents that people with disabilities have to offer – and it’s been awesome to see that our frontline and employees across the country are just as passionate about accessibility! We’ve had a 20% increase in membership and disability inclusion events across our 55 DE&I chapters has more than doubled in just the last year.
What do you mean by “Disable the Label?”
“Disable the label” is about not being labeled or defined by our disabilities. A big turning point for our network and the company happened this February when we changed the narrative from Autism Awareness Month to Autism Acceptance Month. We focused on educating employees on the social model of disability and shed light on the beauty of neurodiversity inside and outside of T-Mobile.
The ADN strives to “disable the label” by creating an environment that advocates for and supports our employees living with disabilities. That also means fostering a culture where people feel comfortable asking questions and sharing what’s on their minds. It’s through this proactive dialogue that we all learn how to better support each other – while also recognizing each other’s greatest strengths. This, in turn, helps us fuel career growth and opportunities where people can thrive.
You mentioned a huge increase in ADN membership. Who can become a member?
All T-Mobile employees are welcome to join the ADN! In a lot of cases, employees reach out to us for support because something happened in their lives – a child or spouse or friend might have received a diagnosis that they know nothing about. But the ADN is creating a space where people find a sense of community, and resources for themselves, their family, friends and even their customers.
We’re also inclusive of employees living with disabilities, caretakers and allies because we want everyone to have the opportunity to broaden their scope of understanding about accessibility. It’s an all-encompassing mission to make sure everyone is educated about accessibility, even if they don’t have a disability.
Why were you inspired to join the ADN?
The ADN was a draw for me when I joined the company four years ago because it aligned so well with my personal life and volunteer work. I grew up with my favorite family member, my cousin Liza, who had Down syndrome and was a Special Olympics athlete. That’s also how I got involved with Special Olympics as a year-round volunteer. My athletes know me as “Coach Savy.” I coach basketball every week in the winter, track and field in the spring and football and softball in the fall – all leading into our state games. And I sit on the events committee where I help fundraise – if I’m not coaching, I’m fundraising.
My personal life is centered around all thing’s disability inclusion. It’s my passion!
What makes T-Mobile a best place to work for disability inclusion?
Disability inclusion is about more than just hiring people with disabilities. It’s about creating a culture where employees can bring their full selves to work each and every day. It’s about providing the same opportunities to succeed and grow professionally, regardless of any visible or non-visible disability. Inclusion is about embracing people’s differences and is core to what makes T-Mobile such a great place to work.
“Be You” is our mantra and we really do mean it here. Our inclusive culture comes from the top down and I think leadership truly sees the value that comes from a diverse workforce. It’s even a part of our company values that employees are encouraged to be bold, think big and make a difference. I constantly have moments where my athletes or members of the ADN astonish me with comments about a subject I would have never thought of. It’s this kind of environment where individuals with disabilities can thrive by contributing a different dynamic and perspective, which is why we’re actively recruiting at events sponsored by organizations like the National Wheelchair Basketball Association – to find the best talent!
All these things contributed to T-Mobile’s top score on the Disability Equality Index. It’s a collective win for the company – not just ADN – because it took every employee and every line of business to contribute to an accessible workplace and receive that 100.
What do you want readers to take away from T-Mobile’s top score on the Disability Equality Index?
Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the Un-carrier culture – which is why we embrace the ADA as a victory in the fight for equity for all. And today we celebrate our ongoing efforts to provide a fair and accessible workplace to ALL employees.
To learn more about diversity and inclusion at T-Mobile, visit our Careers Page.