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.
Jenny Lay-Flurrie has a passion to see people of all abilities reach their full potential. Jenny is Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft leading our efforts to drive great products, services and websites that empower people and organisations to achieve more. Her team is at the forefront of creating positive experiences that apply technology to make a difference in the world and the lives of individuals from how we hire and support people with disabilities in employment to innovative technology that aims to revolutionize ‘what’s possible’ for people with disabilities.
Jenny is also the Chair of DisAbility@Microsoft, an employee resource (affinity) group focused on “Enabling people to be successful regardless of ability or disability.” With the help of her team and broad community within Microsoft, Jenny leads many initiatives to empower people with disabilities both in and out of Microsoft. These initiatives range from creating the Disability Answer Desk which provides specialist customer support to people with disabilities to hosting the annual Microsoft Ability Summit which focusses on empowering attendees (800+ in 2016) with the inclusive and innovative thinking necessary to enable people of all abilities around the world. Also instrumental in projects such as Cities Unlocked and recent ‘ALS Hackathon’, focused on empowering people with disabilities with new technologies and capabilities.
Outside of Microsoft, Jenny is Chair, Board of Directors for US Business Leader Network (USBLN) and an active member of the Washington State Disability Taskforce working to increase employment for people with disabilities in state government. Was recognized as a ‘Champion of Change’ by the White House in October 2014.
Kevin D. Silva is executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Voya Financial®, responsible for Human Resources, Corporate Responsibility and Voya Foundation. In this role, Silva directs a strategy aimed at building the organization’s human capital by attracting, retaining and developing world-class employees and incenting them to deliver superior performance. Silva also serves on Voya Financial’s Executive Committee.
Silva joined the company in 2012. Prior to this, he served as chief human resources officer at Argo Group International, a global, publicly traded specialty insurance company. At Argo, he was responsible for building a high-performing team and implementing compensation, succession and executive-development practices.
Prior to joining Argo, Silva spent more than 13 years at MBIA Insurance Corporation, a global, publicly traded insurance company, where he served as chief administrative officer responsible for the human resources, corporate administration, information resources, facilities and telecommunications, and records-management functions. He served as an adviser to MBIA’s business leaders on individual and financial performance improvement. He also played a significant role in driving a post-acquisition integration process and served as an important strategic partner to the CEO and to the Compensation Committee of the MBIA Board of Directors.
Silva has also served in senior human resources leadership roles as head of human resources for Merrill Lynch Capital Markets; chief human resources officer for MasterCard International; and executive director for PepsiCo Management Institute/PepsiCo.
Silva earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from St. John’s University, and a master’s degree in psychology from New York University. He serves as chairman of the Board of Directors for New York Institute of Technology, and is a member of the Institute’s Executive Committee.
Paulette Penzvalto is a Program Manager in Corporate Engineering at Google. She is passionate about Diversity and Inclusion, leads Autism Programs at Google and is active in the Google Disability Alliance. Paulette sits on the San Francisco Mayor’s Council for People with Disabilities and presents nationally on issues pertaining to Autism and Employment in tech. She studied Computer Science while a student at Columbia University, has two graduate degrees in Opera and has performed internationally
Rona is the director of supplier diversity for Walgreens, member of Walgreens Boots Alliance. In this capacity, she leads a team to impact the diverse owned business inclusion rate in contracting for merchandise, goods not for resale and professional services. She and her team serve as the primary liaison and subject matter experts for identifying, developing and introducing diverse suppliers for opportunities at Walgreens. Rona has also supported HR Transformation for Walgreens and is an integral leader within the Global Office of Diversity & Inclusion recently completing a Walgreens hosted development track for its future leaders. Rona has also successfully launched two job readiness programs at Walgreens for youth aging out of foster care to gain entry level store positions.
Prior to joining Walgreens, Rona led supplier diversity initiatives in both the private and public sectors and held senior management roles in finance and accounting. Rona directed the Chicago Minority Business Opportunity Center, a $1.2M US Department of Commerce, MBDA funded project, and was acknowledged by the National Director for successfully executing financial transactions for minority owned businesses in excess of $105M. Rona has led information technology system design projects for organizational transformations as an employee and as a consultant. Rona has been cited in diversity publications, received recognitions for advocacy, commitment, and most importantly for delivering results that have contributed to the development and economic growth of the diverse owned businesses.
Rona is an active member of the community and serves for several organizations throughout the U.S. including affiliates of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, US Business Leaders Network, Conference Board, Holy Family Scholars (HFS), and the boards of Providence Englewood Charter School and Tuskegee Next Academy. Rona was recently recognized by Mass Market Retail as 1 of 6 who made a difference in 2017.
Rona has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration & Accounting from DePaul University, a Masters of Arts in Divinity, is a Certified Fraud Examiner and an ordained minister.
Thomas J. Wlodkowski is the Vice President of Accessibility at Comcast. In this role, Tom is responsible for developing and executing the company’s strategic plan focused on the usability of Comcast’s products and services by people with disabilities as well as pursuing opportunities to further enrich the customer experience for the disability community.
Throughout his career, Tom has been a pioneer in the accessibility field. Blind himself, he has been a champion for people with disabilities, working to improve usability of mainstream Internet, mobile, broadcast and cable television technology.
Under Mr. Wlodkowski’s guidance, Comcast launched Voice Guidance on the XFINITY X1 Operating System, the industry’s first talking guide that provides people who are blind or visually impaired with independent access to the X1 set-top box user interface including TV listings, the ability to manage their DVR, access to Video On Demand and Settings. Tom and his team also opened a dedicated support center for customers with disabilities and created an accessibility lab to drive accessibility research and development. The lab provides an interactive atmosphere where employees can experience the accessibility features of Comcast’s current and future products and assistive technologies used by people with disabilities.