ADP’s Giselle Mota and Para-Athlete Noelle Lambert Share Lessons on Disability Inclusion

Originally published at Giselle Mota is the Chief of Product Inclusion for ADP. Noelle Lambert is a para-athlete and founder of The Born to Run Foundation. ADP ranked No. 14 on The Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.

ADP’s virtual Inclusion Summit 2022 featured a “Scoring Goals with Team Inclusion for People with Disabilities” keynote session that focused on disability inclusion.

During the session, Giselle Mota, Chief of Product Inclusion for ADP, interviewed Noelle Lambert, a para-athlete, cast member of season 43 of “Survivor” and founder of The Born to Run Foundation. Lambert was involved in a moped accident in 2016 that resulted in the amputation of one leg above the knee. She competed on the U.S. Paralympic team in track and field.

One key lesson leaders took away from Mota and Lambert’s conversation was that disability inclusion in the workplace can be fostered by normalizing people’s differences.

“There are over a billion people in the world that have some sort of a disability,” Mota said. “Sometimes you can have a disability because you were born with it or you acquired it. Anyone can have a disability.”

Lambert said it is the role of everyone in the company to normalize differences.

“Welcome differences and … do not make it a big thing,” Lambert said. “Make the person who is disabled in the group feel comfortable. When I’m around people that I feel are accepting of me and that I feel like I can be comfortable with, that is when I show my best self.”

Treat People With Respect

While people with disabilities might do things differently than their coworkers who do not have disabilities, they should still be treated with respect and dignity.

“A big thing for my coaches and the captains on the team is they wanted to treat me like everybody else,” Lambert said, mentioning that she switched from playing lacrosse to running track and field after becoming disabled. “They didn’t want to give me an advantage just because I had a disability, and they never let me use my disability as an excuse not to do a drill or not to participate in practice. That made me work even harder because [they] focused on me and tried to get me to live out my dreams. That just made me feel comfortable and confident. And it really did make me feel like I wasn’t different.”

Being able to show up as you are at work and feeling like you are accepted by your colleagues is what creates a healthy, inclusive culture. Treating people equally and being more inclusive can heighten employee engagement and entice jobseekers to join your company. Equal treatment of employees could also improve representation.

“You often see that there are groups of people who are not in leadership positions,” Mota said. “It’s not because they’re not qualified. It’s not because they don’t have amazing skills. Organizations are figuring out that they need to widen their search more. We need to be more creative and think outside of the box on attracting people to our organizations and achieve all kinds of diverse representation.”