Being a leader wasn’t something Ingrid was expecting, or even planning for. “I had never really dreamt of becoming a leader. At the same time, I understood that an equally important part of my job is to be a role model.” No surprise, then, that Ingrid’s favourite part the job is meeting new recruits and feeding off their energy. In the end, though, she believes that they deserve the credit. “They have done all the good work; we’ve simply opened new doors for them.”
Not everything, however, is sunny-side-up and Ingrid is all too aware of the challenges that stubbornly remain for people with disabilities. Universal design (accessibility to buildings and transportation, for example), Ingrid notes, “poses a great threat to enabling people with disabilities to work within the ordinary labour market.” Similarly, the stigma that hovers frustratingly around mental health illnesses remains difficult to shake, despite recent progress. It’s difficult for leaders to talk about, Ingrid reflects, and willingness to discuss the topic openly remains lacking.
Is Ingrid daunted? Short answer: nope. “I see many possibilities in the modern labour market with technological innovations, but in order to get more people with disabilities into work, it is crucial that companies open their doors to this group.” Open Mind is one way she sees this happening. Another is through bodies such as the The International Labour Organization (ILO). “The purpose with the ILO’s network is to get disabled people to work by connecting member companies. Companies listen to each other and by connecting them the ILO network creates a better hiring culture for all.”
For Ingrid, there is one sure-fire way to help make that a reality. ”My biggest dream would be to see a similar Open Mind programme in all countries of the world.”
We can’t think of a better person to make it happen. The farming life may just have to wait.