#WomensDay: A Different Kind of Equality

by Anne Reuss

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Change of plans! I was originally working on a tongue in cheek post for today since Jeannie and Lisa are on their way to Austin for SXSW (thus leaving me in charge. Mwahaha. World Domination anyone?). But when I was working on the post (which I hope she’ll let me post next week!) I realized it was International Women’s Day. I believe she’s about to take off, so this will be a fun surprise! When I saw this picture below, I immediately thought of Jeannie.

msequality

For those who don’t know, I am Deaf and I’ve been working with Jeannie since August. We work virtually so communication is barely an issue. Even when we meet one on one, my lip reading and speaking skills are strong enough to have a conversation with her (and I think she’s gotten somewhat used to my “Deaf accent,” rock on). She’s also getting killer with signing the ABC’s. But that’s not what needs to be addressed.

We have team meetings at least once a month using Go 2 Meeting or in person and we tried to have somebody transcribe a summary of the meeting so I could be included. I would type my ideas, questions or observations for the rest of the team to read in real-time. It just wasn’t the same. I wanted to absorb every bit of information. I’m not a part of her team just to do my job, but to learn, so I can be the most awesome community manager I can for her business. As a Deaf person, I’m naturally striving to fill in the blanks through listening and reading. Context matters very much and I thrive in collaborative environments, virtually or face to face – and sometimes I just absolutely require an interpreter to facilitate the communication process so our ideas can collide and grow quicker.

It wasn’t long before I disclosed my feelings that it wasn’t quite sufficient and to my delight she completely agreed. She already sensed it.

We had an end of the year team meeting fueled by coffee, great minds and an interpreter. I was so touched that she was willing to bring on an interpreter. I’ll tell you one of the reasons I wasn’t getting hired immediately after I graduated in May 2011 was become companies with a much larger budget were ignorant and feared the cost of hiring a Deaf employee (which is very minimal to none – ridiculous, I know. They’re missing out on some talent!). But then, I shouldn’t be so surprised.

She IS an enlightened leader devoted to making each day better, no matter how little of a tweak it takes. Now our goal is to secure an interpreter for every team meeting. I’ll be able to keep on growing as a customer experience ‘investigator’ and community manager.

That my friends, is hard evidence, that an enlightened leader makes an happy employee and an overall great customer experience for our business and community. Improving the customer experience doesn’t always mean the consumer. There’s a positive ripple effect throughout the organization, its community and customers.

Help me wish a Happy International Women’s Day to the Chief!

 

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Anne

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