SAGE Co-Founder Celebrates Disability Pride
July is Disability Pride Month, celebrating its 32nd year after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990. The Act aims to protect people with disabilities from discrimination, and this month celebrates disability as a natural part of human diversity, something I feel strongly about celebrating, as I’m a Mom of a little boy with special needs.
Despite the ADA, we still have a long way to go to eradicate the discrimination that people with disabilities face in the workplace and in education, and businesses can each do their bit to support this.
I created SAGE Virtual Staffing because I recognize the barriers that come with a disability, and I’ve felt them on a personal level. I worked in the corporate world for over 20 years, and I faced discrimination and a lack of understanding when I needed to take time off to care for my little boy who has Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). I know from personal experience that people in the disabled community don’t want sympathy from employers, but we deserve understanding, equal opportunities, and flexibility that can accommodate our individual needs.
This was the catalyst for me to start SAGE Virtual Staffing and SAGE Executive Assistants. I wanted to create a business where employees can work flexibly from their own homes so that people with disabilities and parents and caregivers of children with disabilities can find work that accommodates them. Family is the most important thing in my life, and I felt so strongly that I didn’t want any of my employees to feel as I had done like they had to prioritize work over their own health or the health of their children.
I’m quietly hopeful that I have founded an organization that embraces Identity and Disability Pride. We invest in people within the disabled community, and as a result, we have a diverse and inclusive workforce that benefits from a safe, understanding, positive work culture. I’m so proud of my son, and as he grows up, I want him to feel proud of his identity, too. Visibility in the workplace is a huge part of the concept of Pride in Identity. It’s essential for disabled people to feel accepted and appreciated for who they are.
I’m GiGi Sheppard, founder of SAGE Virtual Staffing and co-founder of SAGE Executive Assistants. And this is Noah Sheppard, my delightful, nine-year-old, genetically enhanced superhero.