DEI Fearlessness Finding your path Purposeful work

POWERED BY PURPOSE

I want to rearrange culture and behaviours to develop business (and the world) into a more equitable, inclusive, kinder, vulnerable, courageous (that’s open-to-failure), supportive, healthier, empathetic place of Disability for business growth.

20 February 2023 • 4 min read

As a Disabled AF, creative, active (non-optical) intersectional accomplice-in-progress, socially conscious entrepreneur, South Asian man, continual work-in-progress, I believe in humanity, human connection, and the power of creating a better world in unison. My love for building relationships, stories and magic extended online in 2010 when I started engaging with other Disabled people on Social Media while studying a BA (Honours) in Advertising & Brand Communication at the University for the Creative Arts.

After years of struggling to break into the “wonderful world of communication” (particularly in the advertising industry) despite having intense passion and relentless energy, I finally landed my first job. It was short-lived, and I ended up leaving after eight months, as the work environment was inaccessible and toxic. I no longer believe that creativity only lives in the advertising industry and now aim to work with the broader creative industries and beyond. I am frustrated by the lack of support for me and others (who are more talented than me) in the same situation to participate in the creative industries.

Then in November 2016, after global efforts to connect with Disabled creatives from across the world, I felt compelled to start this adventure after writing a blog post about Disability and the media in 2015. I found ThisAbility out of necessity, not luxury. I set up my venture because I simply wasn’t seeing anyone else like me working in the creative industries over several years. My business has developed significantly since its foundation and recently I have finally found clarity of what my business is: ThisAbility Limited is a Disability-led (and POC-led) justice business. We help socially conscious organisations focused on sustainability, technology, or design to diversify revenues by engaging the estimated $8 trillion Disabled market. And because of my innate sense of solidarity and desire for justice, I wanted to work to ignite, invest in, and amplify Disabled creativity across the world for a Just tomorrow for Disabled people.

I was tired of waiting for change and feeling alone.

So, what public problem am I working to solve and why?

PROBLEM

Due to the accepted narratives around creativity and Disability, there is a severe lack of Disabled creatives in the creative industries

WHY

I’m part of what the UN calls the ‘world’s largest minority,’ a group currently at 1.4 billion people, an emerging market the size of China. This market is one that has a combined spending power (when you include family and friends that add another 2.3 billion potential consumers who act on their emotional connection to Disabled people) of over $8 trillion in annual disposable income. Despite this, we’re one of the world’s most marginalised communities. Our needs have consistently failed to be addressed, even though anyone could join this ‘minority’ at any point in their lives.

At best, we are treated as Stella Young famously coined as inspiration porn‘ – that’s not good enough.

We’re life hackers by nature – because we have to overcome physical, social, attitudinal, economic and daily barriers.

There is infinite potential and magic within us to thrive, not merely survive.

I believe in doing what makes me feel alive, doing something that gets my heart racing and building businesses (and the world) into a better place for Disabled people.

So, how do I do this? 

BY CHOOSING PROJECTS

Previously, I used to take any project that headed my way, which landed me in toxic working environments and, in turn, had a negative impact on my health. Nowadays, choose projects that align with my core values: being open-minded, open-hearted, and focusing on Anti-Ableism, Disability Justice, and accessibility (for Disabled people). I’m driven by bold, wild, and fearless creativity, building upon mutual relationships between businesses and Disabled creativity to generate respective value, joint growth, and invest and enable Disabled creativity to future-proof businesses.

What do I look for when taking on new work? 

I look for work with socially conscious organisations focused on sustainability, technology, and design. Utilising this approach has given me the time and space I need to build, take ownership and have a tangible impact throughout my activities.

SELECTION CRITERIA

  • They have a people and planet-first approach
  • They care for each other and understand that interdependence is more significant than independence
  • They believe in harmony above balance
  • They pay fairly and on time
  • They do not add to the systems of oppression, including but not limited to Racism, Colonialism, Sexism, Heterosexism, Cissexism, Ableism, Classism, Anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia, etc.

 

I want to rearrange culture and behaviours to develop business (and the world) into a more equitable, inclusive, kinder, vulnerable, courageous (that’s open-to-failure), supportive, healthier, empathetic place of Disability for business growth.

HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED

I feel that Disabled people are not taken care of and that the system is not designed for anyone Disabled to strive, let alone thrive. And that’s why I aim to place Disability and Disabled people at the heart of everything I do.

I like having good energy around me – it nourishes my soul. Also, the power and support I get from my community keeps me excited and keeps me going.

I love talking to my community and meeting new people – building relationships, listening to people’s stories, and hearing about their journey brings me joy.

And lastly, my Disabled global family – being connected with incredible Disabled people across the world, is magic!

MY ADVICE

I know it is hard, but don’t lose hope.

Listen to your gut, heart, and intuition, and don’t sell yourself short. Be brave, be the change and lead this meaningful and purposeful rebellion positively by being socially conscious. Have the ambition to build, take ownership and have a tangible impact through your activities.

AND BE THE KIND OF PERSON YOU NEEDED WHEN YOU WERE A YOUNGSTER. 

*This article is imagined, created, written, and shared with joy and interdependence Sulaiman R. Khan [he/him/his/Disabled] in Crip Time (a term created by, for, and used by the Disabled community). Crip Time is valuing the importance of restful activism, and the bending of time (and time travel that works with Disabled bodies and minds without adding to Ableism nor the system[s] of oppression we face daily). Crip Time is the wisdom of knowing that interdependence is more significant than independence. Crip Time is unfiltered, unconditional, and radical Disabled grief and joy in harmony above balance. Crip Time is understood and embraced the most by our Disabled global family.

DEI Fearlessness Finding your path Purposeful work

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