“Real” About Diversity

In “Real” About Diversity, Brian Patrick Jensen shares his up close and personal account of a senior executive stricken by sudden deafness and challenged to makeover every workplace interaction required to do his job effectively as Vice President of Human Resources.  In classic stark eloquence, Mr. Jensen implores his audience to “get real” about the ultimate workforce diversity challenge of our time– accommodating people with substantial disabilities.

More About this Presentation

“Real” About Diversity is an inspiring keynote and workplace leadership seminar for top executives, frontline managers and human resource management professionals.   Brian Patrick Jensen describes his charge to implement accommodations for himself to discover that conventional rules of equal employment opportunity “sameness” are ineffective and counter intuitive for solving the ultimate workforce diversity challenge– accommodating people with vastly different disabilities.

First, humbled by the reality of his own inspiring struggle,  Jensen candidly admits his “career-long inadequacy” to appreciate the plight of individuals with disabilities despite 25 years of progressive human resource management leadership.

Brian then boldly challenges a “fundamental flaw” in workplace equal employment opportunity tradition– “There is nothing equal about disabilities,” Brian asserts.

“Diversity is about differences, not similarities. Simply ‘accommodating’ people with substantial disabilities on the premise that they can work the same as you is not reality. I am NOT the same you. I can’t hear; you can!”

Pointing to “dauntingly unfair” employment statistics and major pay inequities, Brian implores business leaders to recognize that the current system of “sameness for all” simply doesn’t work. “The reality is, that offering me ‘equivalency’ dilutes any chance of actually knowing how to hire me specifically.”

Leveraging his first-hand experience on the executive job hunt, Brian challenges the status quo: “You shout your commitment to equality and yet have no idea how to hire an executive who happens to be deaf and ensure he succeeds at your company. You simply don’t know how to do it. And learning how is not on your corporate list.”

Brian then demonstrates workplace accommodations for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing in action, including utilizing Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) throughout his presentation.

Finally, Brian presents a model for “getting real” about workplace diversity by, of all things, “picking favorites” to  champion people with substantial disabilities for success. His conclusions are a thought-provoking departure from long-held human resource management convention:

“Getting  real about diversity for people with disabilities means first to abandon the folly of workplace equality. Quite the opposite, you must pick favorites.”

Siting rare few companies that have done it, Jensen’s premise is that people with disabilities would be much better served by corporations who advocate with “laser focus” by catering to the unique needs of select disabilities rather than giving “lip service” of fairness for all:        

“Target a specific disability; become expert, not just at accommodating it, but offering unprecedented opportunity to ensure success in every task they yearn to do at every level across the enterprise!” Jensen implores.

 ”Then go out and proactively recruit  the best and brightest of that select group; and treat them with special favor precisely because of who they are and what they can accomplish exactly as they are.”   

Brian Patrick Jensen brazenly concludes, “Let’s be real. It matters! An employer who embraces my disability precisely because it does matter is a lot better than a the company who feigns to ignore it as if doesn’t.”

Presentation Outline

Real About Diversity

Until I did it for me

  • BrianPatrick Jensen describes being top Human Resources Executive for his employer when he suffered sudden and profound hearing loss and was faced with “accommodating myself and I had no idea how.”

HR Doctor Heal Thyself

Disability — the ultimate “Diversity”

Accommodating individuals who are Deaf and HoH

HR Vice President essential functions

Fit for duty analysis

Model for workplace diversity