Lessons in inclusion from a disability advocate

Michelle Hicks | October 2021

The featured photo is of Haben standing in a royal blue dress with a black blazer and with a light-green tennis ball in her hand. Her seeing-eye dog sees the ball and anticipates she will play by throwing it. It is a sunny day. They are standing on grass that is green with brown dirt patches. In the background, a body of water is blurred in the top third of the photo.

Micron believes an inclusive workplace leads to innovation and inspiration, which is why our Capable employee resource group (ERG) invited Haben Girma to share her experiences with team members. Haben is the first Deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School and a powerful human rights advocate, especially for those in the disabled community. Her webinar helped us advance our understanding and empathy to unleash the power of inclusion in our industry, business practices, communities and products.

Innovation fosters communication

Technology and innovation empower Haben. For example, observe her communication process. A typist transcribed the audio of the Micron moderator and welcoming comments from Micron’s President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra. Then, Haben read the typed content in braille. Although she can’t see or hear, her sense of touch is great. Haben used her own reasoning to develop this brilliant communication system.

“No one told me to do this,” she said. “I had to plan and strategize an innovative solution that will allow me to have access to audio and visual information.”

Inclusion is a choice

Creating an inclusive environment that respects all abilities takes work and planning. Haben reminded team members that assumptions are barriers.

“There is this assumption there are two kinds of people, dependent and independent, but that’s not true,” she said. “All of us are interdependent.” She reminded team members we can all be part of the solution. “Inclusion is a choice,” said Haben. “And when you do the work to be inclusive, you role-model it for other people around you. And the goal is to one day have a world where everyone practices inclusion in all our work — from our videos to our products — so they are fully accessible to all people.”

Haben noted that investing in accessibility brings enormous benefits to companies. For instance, they gain a wider audience for their messages. More than 60 million Americans are living with disabilities, and without accessibility, these individuals are excluded from content that might interest them. Haben also noted that, when digital content is accessible, it’s more discoverable.

Micron team members asked thoughtful questions such as how Haben stays motivated during adversity and what hiring managers can do to make the interview process a more inclusive experience for disabled candidates. Haben answered with helpful advice. Everyone walked away with a better understanding and ways to contribute to an inclusive workplace.

Micron chooses inclusion

Micron is making more progress in creating greater accessibility for all team members. For instance, we have added closed-captioning to our Zoom meetings for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Micron’s Capable ERG recently published step-by-step instructions to help team members adjust their computer color filters to improve contrast and make screens more accessible for people who are colorblind.

Efforts like these helped Micron achieve a score of 80 out of 100 on the Disability Equality Index. While our score earned us a spot on the Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion list, we know there is more we can do. In FY22, we plan to make our company more accessible by ensuring individuals can access digital content. As part of these efforts, we will conduct a global evaluation of our benefits for inclusivity and inform job candidates of the option to request accommodations for their interviews.

Micron has also partnered with the Valuable 500, a coalition of more than 500 national and multinational corporations committed to unlocking the social and economic value of people living with disabilities. Micron has also recently joined nearly 300 companies in the pursuit of achieving disability inclusion and equality by becoming a corporate partner of Disability:IN.

Director, Diversity, Equality & Inclusion

Michelle Hicks

Michelle Hicks serves as director of communication, strategy and engagement for the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion team at Micron. In this role, Michelle works to elevate Micron’s DEI voice with leaders, team members and external stakeholders to drive greater diversity and inclusion at Micron and across the global semiconductor industry. Michelle has received multiple journalism and communication awards. She is passionate about creating a safe and inclusive workplace culture where employees are empowered to have a positive impact. Michelle is a dog mom who volunteers as a youth mentor. You may catch her trying to stay out of the kitchen on the pickleball court.