Fostering an Inclusive Environment with Express PossAbilties
October 11, 2018 | Express Scripts
Kyle M., is a Senior Project Manager supporting our Enterprise Value Office and Express PossAbilities Membership Lead.
It’s no secret that diversity and inclusion is a major initiative in companies across the world. But while many simply boast about their diverse and inclusive culture, Express Scripts truly places importance on fostering programs and partnerships that ensure employees feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work every day. The program I’m closest to is Express PossAbilities, one of Express Scripts’ six Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), that promotes an inclusive workplace environment and culture for employees of all abilities.
I first became involved with Express PossAbilities in 2016, when I helped plan a disability expo in partnership with the Starkloff Institute, a St. Louis non-profit dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate fully and equally in all parts of society. The expo took place in October, which is Disability Education & Awareness Month, and showcased technologies that assist people with a wide range of disabilities. It also gave participants the opportunity to experience what it’s like to have low or no vision and to navigate a wheelchair through doors or into a bathroom stall. It was an eye-opening experience for all participants.
Since getting involved with Express PossAbilities, I’ve held a number of roles: Event Coordinator, Communications Lead, and now Membership Lead. The sole focus of my current position is growing our total membership by 10% and increasing our membership in Express Scripts locations outside of our St Louis office.
One of the reasons I’m passionate about fostering an inclusive environment is because my youngest daughter, Brooklyn, 8, was born with a rare condition called Poland Syndrome. This condition affects girls less than boys, so it’s even rarer that she was born with it. Poland Syndrome has a wide range of effects, from minor to severe, and Brooklyn’s falls more on the minor end of the spectrum. The condition can affect either the right or left side of the person who has it, but the primary impact of Poland Syndrome is the absence of the pectoral muscle on the affected side. The severity of the condition comes into play with other issues that accompany the missing pectoral muscle. In some severe cases, an individual could have a shorter forearm, smaller hand, webbed fingers – or perhaps no fingers, or only a few present – spinal issues, or rib cage issues on their affected side.
In the case of my daughter, she is right side-affected; she has a slightly smaller right hand and some webbing between her pointer and middle finger, which both slightly curve in. Due to her smaller right hand, she tends to use her left hand more often, but still has full use of her right hand and uses it for some activities, like playing piano.
Even though my daughter’s disability is primarily an invisible one, she still carries it with her. It will affect her self-image, it will affect whether she feels accepted or not, and I think it’s important to realize that lots of people come to work with hidden disabilities—as well as visible ones. What I really like about Express PossAbilities is that we’re not only focusing on education and awareness, but we’re also influencing change in hiring practices, workplace accommodations, and even how we serve our members with disabilities. We’re also helping drive changes to our lab and carefully thinking through our products and how to make them accessible to people with disabilities so they can access, refill, manage, and change their prescriptions. I am proud to do my part in building a corporate America where people of all abilities can bring their whole selves to work, without shame, apprehension, or fear.
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