“The pandemic has put us all in our place in the face of illness and mortality. Can you imagine a better wake-up call for embracing diversity?”. Pablo Pineda, well-known disability activist, speaks to IMD Profesor of social innovation Vanina Farber.

This interview and article was originally published by IMD. You can read the full article on their website here ( follow the link https://www.imd.org/news/updates/the-pandemic-has-been-a-wake-up-call-for-embracing-diversity/)

“The pandemic has put us all on an equal footing and sent us back to the starting blocks in a quest to show our talents, skills and competencies. I believe that now is our time.” Pineda believes we are starting “the decade of inclusion”, during which people with disabilities are going to surprise the world.

Talent without labels

People must be at the heart of the diversity and inclusion conversation. If you first discover the people who hold the talent, he observes, you’re seeing them with no filter. This is the “talent without labels” approach that Pineda encourages.

“Talent without labels is about putting the individual at the heart of the matter and then going within that person and asking what they can bring to the company. How can they enrich it? How can their talent take the company further in that direction?” he asked.

“We have to shake off prejudices and stereotypes because they put a veil over all that is good within us.”

If label-free is our future, then philanthropy is our past — certainly when it comes to how Pineda views diversity. But that doesn’t mean competition in the workplace should go out the window; quite the contrary.

However, competition from an inclusive perspective requires businesses to reset equal opportunities; it should not be about numbers, but about bringing different types of talent from a variety of individuals to the table.

“Diversity feeds competition — healthy competition,” Pineda believes, and choosing one employee over another because they can contribute more is absolutely the way to hire and promote.

Inclusion in the workplace starts at school

Pineda pinpoints two major phases that happen before people enter the world of work that are key to them feeling included: a child’s family environment and education. And these two must feed off each other, he says, ideally with an attitude of “yes, why not?” infiltrating both.

“We should be trying to see the child as a person, not as a nuisance or a burden. The child should serve as a challenge, motivating the teachers and, as a consequence, the institution to improve.”

Children naturally have it in them to share, Pineda reminds us, adding that “they need to be educated, though, in order to read difference as something natural.”

The Adecco Group Foundation describes its work as “a social innovation lab, incubating and accelerating new solutions in the world of work” and Pineda frequently speaks out on the Foundation’s labour-integration plans for people with disabilities.


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