Three questions with Chad Jerdee
1. What makes you passionate about disability inclusion?
First and foremost, I believe that diversity makes companies and societies stronger, and I believe that people with disabilities bring strengths that can benefit all companies. They are resilient and adept at overcoming challenges. They know what it means to adapt and find creative solutions to problems. And I believe that, by overcoming difficulties, they develop character.
Second, as an amputee, I know what it feels like to be different and have people make assumptions about what I can and can’t do. Disability inclusion is about overcoming those assumptions and creating a workplace where every individual can bring their unique talents, build meaningful careers, and contribute to a better workplace and world.
Third, while I do believe we need to focus on inclusion for people with disabilities, I also think we need to look beyond labels. What is a disability? Truly, every person faces adversity at some point in their lives. The idea that some receive a full package of “abilities” and that the world is divided neatly between the “abled” and “disabled” is misdirected. Our focus should be how we adapt, overcome…and then utilize our individual gifts. Becoming disabled, for me, involved a lot of suffering. I spent a month in the hospital, endured many surgeries, battled infections, and spent a full year healing and learning how to work, walk, ski, bike, and do all the other things I love to do. Looking back, I am so grateful for what I experienced. I wouldn’t change a thing. It showed me the good in others. It made me more durable and more thankful. It gave me the opportunity to be a role model for my children. And it made me a more compassionate leader. So, am I disabled or enabled?
2. How is your company trying to move the needle in advancing disability inclusion?
First and foremost, we have a strong Inclusion and Diversity program sponsored by our most senior management, and our people with disabilities program features prominently alongside other important diversity initiatives. I am fortunate to be the Global Sponsor for Accenture’s Persons with Disabilities program, which helps to drive disability inclusion efforts in an organization of over 430,000 people in countries all around the world. We focus on attracting, hiring, and retaining and developing our employees with disabilities. We continue to build a strong network for people with disabilities and have a strong network of sponsors to make sure we are acting in our geographies. We are relentlessly focused on both physical and technology accessibility.
To hold ourselves accountable, we have a global disability inclusion scorecard to assess country maturity levels when it comes to disability inclusion. We capture over 80 data points in over 50 countries for the bi-annual survey in the areas of Leadership, Talent, Accessibility, Culture, and Ecosystem.
3. What makes you excited about speaking at the Conference?
I look forward to learning and to being inspired. Diversity is about listening, sharing, and continuous learning. I am honored to be a participating with an organization whose mission is to help businesses realize and access the potential within the disability community and that has worked with so many disability inclusion advocates and pioneers, such as Judy Heumann, Senator Ted Kennedy Jr., and Jenny Lay-Flurrie. I’m also excited to see so many of our ecosystem partners are collaborating at the annual conference as well as throughout the year through USBLN’s many program offerings.
More about Chad Jerdee
As General Counsel, Chad Jerdee has ultimate responsibility for all legal support to Accenture, serving as principal counsel to senior leadership and the board of directors and leading the company’s Legal department. As head of the Legal department, he oversees all legal services, the contract management and government relations functions. As chief compliance officer, Chad is responsible for managing legal and regulatory compliance programs that enable Accenture to operate around the globe while adhering to the highest ethical standards. He is also a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee.
Prior to assuming his current role in June 2015, Chad held a variety of leadership positions in Accenture Legal, working on many of Accenture’s largest and most complex transactions, and helping Accenture expand into new areas of growth.
From 2010 to 2015, Chad Jerdee served as Deputy General Counsel – Sales & Delivery. In this role, he was responsible for leading global legal support for Accenture’s client-facing business including sales, solution development and client delivery teams—approximately 1,750 Legal professionals in 48 countries. He was also a member of Accenture’s Capital Committee.
From 2005 to 2010, Chad was the Legal lead for Accenture’s largest and most complex transactions, as well as for our growth platforms. Prior to 2005, he held several roles focused on negotiating client transactions and helping to develop Accenture’s contract and negotiation standards.
Before joining Accenture, Chad practiced law in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he specialized in corporate, financing and real estate matters. Chad joined Accenture in 1997 and became partner in 2003.
Chad is the Global Management Committee’s champion for Persons with Disabilities and serves on the national Board of Directors for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, where he helps guide the organization’s growth and success.
He received a BA from St. Olaf College and a JD from the Univ. of Minnesota.