WOCA 2021: Supporting Women of Color with Disabilities

The following session is from Fair360, formerly DiversityInc’s fourth annual Women of Color and Their Allies event, held Oct. 21, 2021. This year’s theme was “Sustaining Workforce Positions for Women of Color.” Throughout the day, panels consisting of researchers, thought leaders and executives shared their insights and strategies for helping women of color overcome common workplace barriers and spotlight allies working to sustain their positions within the workforce.


Moderator: Lynn Cooper, Vice President of Integrated Marketing & Communications at Fair360, formerly DiversityInc

Speaker: Moeena Das, Chief Operating Officer at the National Organization on Disability

We are proud to partner with The National Organization on Disability (NOD) and advocates who are reframing the way women of color with disabilities center themselves and how the larger society views them.

In this session, we’ll examine the unique challenges this group faces in the workplace and how employers can empower employees through a culture of acceptance and belonging.

Session Highlights from Moeena Das

On COVID-19 joining the list of invisible disabilities: 

“Long-haul COVID-19 is now considered a disability and, in many cases, that would be an invisible disability. So, where this really has an interesting effect is that there’s a greater dependency on the individual to disclose the fact that they have a disability, which absolutely plays out in all aspects of life, but certainly within the context of the workplace.”

On intersectionality: 

“At a very fundamental level, there just has to be that greater awareness among leaders, managers, colleagues at all levels within a workplace about the multitude of identities that are held. It’s about centering not just women in the workplace, not just people of color in the workplace, but also what the experience is as a disabled person in the workplace and how those individual barriers tied to those three identities can really compound when they are experienced collectively.”

On remote work and disability: 

“When COVID-19 began and there was a sudden shift to remote work, it was this really interesting moment of both relief and frustration for the disability community. People with disabilities have been advocating for flexible working arrangements for a very long time. The reasons that were given previously as to why they weren’t accounted for were that it was too expensive or that many workplaces could only function optimally when everybody was present in person. Then here we are in a matter of weeks and you have entire organizations that have transitioned to operating remotely and, in some cases, quite successfully.”