Inclusion Through Education: A Conversation with Special Olympics CEO Mary Davis

By Mission

He was 16 hours in. His feet ached of blisters, cuts, and bruises. His whole body was exhausted, screaming at him to stop. He had swum 2.4 miles, cycled 112 miles, and was now on his way to completing the final stage of his journey, a 26.2-mile run. Every step brought him closer to his goal, and every step forward meant ignoring the creeping self-doubt in his mind. 16 hours, 46 minutes, and 9 seconds after he began his journey, the hard work and pain paid off… He heard his name announced over the speaker as he crossed the finish line… “Chris Nikic, you are an Ironman.” On November 7th, 2020, Chris Nikic completed his first Ironman. It’s an incredible feat for anyone to accomplish, but there’s something about Chris’s story that makes it that much more impressive — Chris was the first athlete with Down Syndrome ever to complete an Ironman.It’s a powerful story that Mary Davis, the CEO of Special Olympics, tells to illustrate how the organization is trying to create an inclusion revolution. What does that mean? Find out on f Business X factors. Main Takeaways: Inclusion Revolution: Being inclusive to people with disabilities is not only the right thing to do, it is also good for business. According to the Harvard Business Review, inclusion directly enhances the workplace, and teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report high performance. It has also been found to increase work attendance by almost one day a year per employee, which reduces the cost of absenteeism. The traits that distinguish inclusive leaders from others are humility, awareness of bias, curiosity about others, cultural intelligence, visible commitment to diversity, and effective collaboration. Get Hyperlocal: It does not matter whether you are an organization that is trying to improve the world for disabled people, an awareness campaign about the environment or a business you are trying to grow, a bottoms-up instead of a top-down approach builds trust. Knowledge of local cultures can help to foster an understanding of an international agenda or an appetite for brands. It also means that big brands should change their offerings on a local level to adjust to the tastes of different cultures. Getting hyperlocal means understanding what truly matters to customers in any given location and adjusting marketing to locals tastes and preferences. Become a Storydoer: Storytelling is a powerful tool for any organization or business. In the case of non-profit organizations, it is often not hard to find stories about the great work that is being done. What is more important is to not only share the outcome-oriented stories, but to share the action that produces those results. Storydoing should mobilize people to actively support and promote a cause, or, in the case of a business, to actively promote a brand. Customers should feel they are not only buying or supporting a product, but they are also getting a story that draws them in to move beyond a product. How to Manage Public-Private Partnerships: Contracts between government and business or private organizations can be enormously complex, but they can accomplish what neither side can do alone, like expanding infrastructure where funds are limited or provide much-needed help for non-profit organizations. The process of structuring a PPP involving a large number of people often takes many years. To avoid failure, find a government champion, draw in people with expertise and take note of environmental and social considerations.---Business X factors is produced by and brought to you by Hyland. For over a decade, Hyland has been named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms, leading the way to help people get the information they need when and where they need it. More than half of 2019 Fortune 100 companies rely on Hyland to help them create more meaningful connections with the people they serve. When your focus is on the people you serve, Hyland stands behind you. Hyland is your X factor for better performance. Go to to learn more.

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