Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

Using Technology to be Included interview with Debra Ruh: interview

The benefits of diversity and inclusion in tech are surely evident now more than ever. In this interview, Debra Ruh discusses how tech can help with inclusion and the various aspects of it that we need to consider.

We discussed: –

  • Disabled rights,
  • Tech for good
  • Tech for all
  • Digital inclusion
  • Disability inclusion
Here is the video from our interview, you can also read the full transcript below the blog.

Why is it important to have diversity in technology?

Within the technology industry, a seismic shift had to occur to fix the diversity gap. Clearly, the benefits of having gender diversity, more diverse employees and promoting diversity to the workforce and the outside world are obvious to build sustainable equity for the business and positive PR channels which enable optimal recruitment processes too.

Tech diversity builds more resilient businesses

When people are looking for tech jobs they are clearly more interested in joining companies with business resilience, without more diverse talent it means that your business misses out on more diverse ideas from embracing gender diversity.

To increase tech diversity is to embrace underrepresented communities and groups and recruit more women. This is the beginning of reducing the bias that machines and businesses are programmed with, and just one of the many reasons to embrace diversity and inclusion in tech.

Why is diversity needed in tech?

With tech companies understanding the importance of having a diverse talent pool they have over the last few years begun to improve leadership representation by including many more diverse candidates when recruiting for senior leadership positions. They have fortunately begun to improve diversity and to create more inclusive workplaces.

With a renewed focus the tech industry could certainly do more to for underrepresented individuals, especially in leadership roles. The tech workforce needs to embrace more diverse employees and it is my belief the technology industry could do more to encourage young women and they could also encourage female role models to join big tech and even go so far to grow their senior leadership team with the gender diversity agenda at top of mind as opposed to an afterthought.

Female role models and underrepresented groups within the tech sector are good for business for a number of reasons the tech industry must embrace gender diversity.

Diverse employees is good for business. As the pace of change in the tech sector is so fast, it is more important than ever for companies to have a mix of voices and experiences at the table when making decisions about product roadmaps and company strategies. Diversity of thought helps identify different ways of approaching problems and prevents groupthink.

There are plenty of studies that show that diverse tech companies and employee resource groups (ERGs) are good for business. McKinsey recently released a study that found that companies would increase $12tn in additional GDP if the gender gap is narrowed by 2025.

Benefits of diversity are huge

Embracing diversity in tech and looking into hiring people from BAME backgrounds is not just important it is “mission-critical!” The data shows that the workplace is changing, people are walking out of their jobs in the 10s of thousands and remote work has now become a norm.

So a commitment to diversity, inclusion and a culture where people from all walks of life are encouraged to become vice president, co founder or even the CEO of a company will enable a much more deep-rooted success in the workplace. Where people are given the support they need to flourish and to become a top talent. Whether people are from BAME backgrounds, whether they are black women or transgender or any other underrepresented community ensuring this diversity is not just something for satellite offices but for the entire UK economy as a whole.

Why is it important to have diversity in technology?

Tech companies and the entire tech industry must embrace diverse talent within the tech workforce or they will risk losing to increased competition from more agile and more customer-focused diverse businesses. Tech companies must take note and increase diversity, they must monitor data trends and study research ensuring that their commitment isn’t just a fad, as I have said we need more women leaders in tech, we need other jobs to be filled by people with a wide range of experience, diverse backgrounds and skills.

Tech companies and the tech sector can still do more

Career development in big tech is not exactly easy for many diverse underrepresented groups and individuals and there are still many holes to be filled There are many aspects of the company pipeline to be considered when tackling a lack of diversity in tech, including driving initial interest in the industry from candidates from underrepresented groups to building a truly inclusive internal culture.

Culture is key to business success even in the tech sector and tech talent is in fact in so much of a demand that they get to choose where they work and this in itself enables diversity as HR managers and directors are now encouraged to increase diversity within whatever tech company they are working for. Do also check out The Great Workplace Culture Debate.

Ethics in tech and in particular the tech sector itself is questioned continually and diversity is not just the latest buzzword. It is the diversity that will fuel many more new products and other jobs that aren’t even invented yet.

In recent years, the technology industry has come under fire for a lack of diversity. This is not news. However, it is something that the industry is beginning to address. Slowly but surely, tech companies are realizing that in order for their businesses to be successful, they need to embrace gender diversity and diversity in all forms.

One way to drive this change in diversity is by embracing more diversity and inclusion programs.

“Gender parity concerns relative equality in terms of numbers and proportions of women and men, girls and boys, and is often calculated as the ratio of female-to-male values for a given indicator.” According to the European Institute for Gender Equality

So whatever part of the tech sector you are in you can positively encourage your company to be more supportive of diversity and inclusion. You can also check out this interview: Responsible Use Of AI + Gender Gap + Inclusion with the President of the Humanized Internet – Monique Morrow

Please take the time to check out the conversation Debra Ruh and I had or read the transcript below.

Nathaniel Schooler


This is Debra Ruh and she’s CEO of Ruh Global Impact, you are a disability inclusion and accessibility expert. And welcome.

Debra Ruh


Thank you. Thank you for having me on I’m so excited

Nathaniel Schooler


So we’re going to talk about tech for all digital inclusion, disabled inclusion and all these kinds of things. Cause I know you’re really big on that and it’s so important right now, more than ever.

Debra Ruh


It really is. And you know, we kept nagging. I’ve sort of felt like I was nagging everybody to please work on making sure your tech was accessible to everyone. Let’s stop deciding certain humans don’t matter because people with disabilities add great value to society and have for many, many,

Debra Ruh


years forever ever since, you know, humans started. So I think it’s unfortunate that we keep deciding certain parts of our population don’t matter and we’re not going to include you. I think that’s, you know, I think that’s just not good for society.

Nathaniel Schooler



Nathaniel Schooler


I’m hearing you and, and also, you know, I mean, as far as like all of the tech companies are concerned, they,

Nathaniel Schooler


want people who are from all walks of life so that they can actually tell their story for them. Right. I mean, they, they don’t just want like a white male who’s who’s 50 years old and

Nathaniel Schooler


he’s a chief finance officer to tell a story they want, they want everybody to be able to be included, right? Like that’s kind of, kind of where certainly influencer marketing communications is kind of going, you know? Yeah,

Debra Ruh


I agree. And I often say to some of the large global clients that we work with, you know, what I say about you is probably going to be more impactful than what you say about yourself, because people are suspicious. They’re very suspicious of large brands. And so if I’m saying it and then grounding it with the information I have, it’s more credible, it’s more credible than, you know, the tech company saying it themselves. And also technology. As we know, it’s very expensive to build and to create and to expand and to keep it doing everything you want it to do. So why not learn from your customers? And like you said, this is not just about one segment of the society. You know, bringing in diverse teams, we know-how help you creative, more productive, and it allows more of us to use your tech. And by the way, we are probably going to use your tech differently than you thought about using it. Some of these voice technologies, you know, they thought, okay, well, you’re going to use it to get recipes and to do this and do this that they didn’t think of. Could it be used to keep people safe and independent and living on their own and all those things? Oh, so you can learn from your customers if you would listen and include us.

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah, I agree completely. I think everybody has, has, has a value to offer. Right? And that’s the that’s the biggest thing is, is, is actually the whole everything’s changed like in, in, in the blink of an eye it’s it’s, it’s changed. And I think that the companies who, who are not, who are not actually investing in, in, in sharing the right messaging, helping people to kind of get through this situation, all the companies, they get a full flat on their faces really in, in, in the future. You know,

Debra Ruh


I agree. And some of the statistical information I’m hearing, it’s pretty frightening. I know in the United States, the they’re predicting, you know, 50% of our small businesses will fail while small businesses are the backbone of the United States. So that’s troubling. And by the way, the large gigantic corporations, they need the small businesses as well. And so you’re right in a blink of an eye, everything changed in the blink of an eye. We realized we are all interconnected. Oh wow. We really do need to work together. Let’s pull down our nationality. You know, it’s all about one country. No, it’s not. It’s about the world and about making the world work for everybody. And tech is such a great equalizer. So why would you build something that 15% of the population can’t use? That’s ridiculous. Why would you waste money like that? Why would you assume it?

Debra Ruh


And we talked about it a little bit before we went on air Nathaniel, when we were talking about getting seasoned by the world and learning, and the reality is most people th that most people with disabilities were not born with disabilities. My daughter was born with disability with down syndrome and she’s, she’s the little rock star. She’s amazing woman, but only 20% of people with disabilities are born with them. Most people acquire disabilities after living their lives. And when you lose your sight later in life, that is going to allow you, I mean, you’re going to have to figure out how to use your other senses more effectively. And it makes you actually a co a good problem solver of complex problems, isn’t that who we want working for us and buying our products and using our products and saying, well, by the way, have you ever thought about using your product this way? I mean, it’s just, it’s about innovation and creativity and I would, and dare I say, it’s the right thing to do. Well, that’s boring to say, but,

Nathaniel Schooler


Well, it is. I mean, I was, I was thinking the other day, right. Like I was, I was in the kitchen and I was thinking, well, you know, I really need to, I really need to set myself a shopping list. Yeah. Okay. And I really need a shopping list on my phone. And I wanted to record one using like my iWatch. Right. And I was like, and I was like, but is there an app that does that like, like, it’s like, well, okay. I can set a task reminder. Yeah. I can send a text. I can send, probably send an email, but I don’t, I don’t really do that that often. And I can check my pulse and I can do all these amazing things, but actually the practicalities of it in this state of affairs, I don’t really want to use my phone when I’m in the supermarket, because I’m kind of a bit paranoid about like touching things and stuff like that.

Nathaniel Schooler


So I need to like clean my phone when I get home, you know, put my clothes in the wash, jump in the shower. Yeah. Leave my shoes, my shoes at the front door, you know, all of these, all of these things that a few months ago, we’re just like, oh, I’ll just use my phone. You know, I’m not worried like nothing’s happening. But so now the, the kind of the opportunity I think to create lots of new products, new services is huge right now. And, you know, a friend of mine was talking to a very seasoned entrepreneur the other day. He owns like a football team or something in America, this guy. And he was saying that, you know, this is much like the 19, 1930s, the great depression, right. When, when, when we came out of the great depression, more millionaires were made in the, at the end of that great depression than ever before in time. Right. So, so to me that says, let’s look opportunity. Let’s, let’s put it all together and,

Nathaniel Schooler


get it going. You know,

Debra Ruh


I agree. And I I’m, I’m obnoxious. I mean, I’m, I’m obnoxious, obnoxious,

Debra Ruh


I’d be obnoxious, but I’m, I am an optimist. And being an entrepreneur for many years has beaten some of that out of me. And so I am an optimist realist, but the reality is things are really hard and there we’re not done. And we don’t know, we know it’s going to be hard for a lot of people. And so why not look at this as an opportunity to do things better? And, and I’ll, I’ll grim that with an example, I watched Michael Bohr’s new documentary that he put out for free on YouTube, and it’s called the planet of humans. And I’m, I’m a very big supporter of our beautiful planet, you know, like that we live on climate action and climate, you know, really focusing on climate change. And, and he was talking about the green movement and how it hasn’t worked. It hasn’t worked.

Debra Ruh


And as he, as he explained it all, it was a really good movie. I highly recommend people watching it. And I thought, you know what? You should be a little depressed that the green movement hasn’t had more impact than we hoped it was. But it was at a time I was watching at the time of the COVID-19 virus when we’ve all sheltering, we’re sheltering at home. And our earth is healing. One day after India went home, the air quality was, it was improved by 44%. They could see the Himalayan mountains for the first time in 40 years, the air quality in Los Angeles, in China, our rivers are cleaner. Wow. Who knew that if we all sheltered at home, our earth would start healing. Now, what can we learn from that? I think that’s fascinating.

Nathaniel Schooler


I agree. But the problem is, is that the economic fallout from the situation of is reading an MIT, a report the other day about this, and the fallout is going to create such economic strife. That actually we’re going to be it not doing anything really big for them, for the environment. So, so, so the challenge, the challenge that we face is will actually, what can we do as individuals? Yeah. And what I think is we can, the people who are working from home now, it’s like, look, we’re not going back to work in an office, sorry. I’m not moving. Like I’m in my office, I’ve got a green screen. I can, I can do what I want. I’m not going anywhere. Right. So, so it’s like, well, we’ll actually what, you know, Y Y you, you trying to get me to go anywhere. Yeah. What, what, what do you want me to go somewhere for when I can integrate my life with, you know, everything I’m doing, I can, I can integrate that into my life. Like, it’s my life. Okay. I work for money. Right. But I need balance in my life. And, and so I think the opportunity’s a, a pretty, a pretty big that. Right. But in terms of like disabled people right now, and getting in front of a camera and stuff like this is even up the playing field for them, and many, many small businesses who don’t want to spend money, like going out to go and visit people. Right.

Debra Ruh


Yes. And you’re, you’re absolutely right. The cool thing about it is like, even with my company, the majority of my employees are people with disabilities and we’ve been teleworking since 2001, I mean, this, my company right now has only been in existence since 2013. I had a company before that, that also was a smart technology employer, because we’re, we’ve always been about tech, but we’ve been doing this. So we’re experts at this. We know how to do it. And you know, and a lot of companies are scrambling because they’re so inaccessible and that their employees are struggling to get the work done, because we told you to make things accessible. But it was for those people with disabilities, come on, there are over a billion people in the world that have disabilities. And it doesn’t mean we’re broken names. You’re human. It means you’re human in the United States.

Debra Ruh


One in four American adult Americans identify as having a disability. And so the numbers are big. Most people that would be honest. Most people don’t want to be part of this community. And that’s a shame too. So we have to break down the barriers, but there’s all this intersectionality too. You know, there are people that there are women with disabilities. There are African Americans with disabilities. There’s people who that are part of the LGBT community that have disabilities. It runs across everything, and it means you’re human. So if you’re creating technology for humans and you’re not making sure that you’re fully accessible to humans and cloning humans with disabilities, then you are, you’re wasting some money. You’re wasting a lot of money and you’re, you’re not gonna be as effective moving forward.

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah. I mean, everything’s all about inclusion these days. Everything is because in order to communicate with a full spectrum of, of society, you need to understand what people’s day-to-day problems are. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. You’re always going to find people within each of those demographics, right? Like that’s, it’s a no brainer. Yeah.

Debra Ruh


Yes. I told the story and I’ve, I’ve told this to many times, but so far, I haven’t found any better stories to tell, but it’s just a great story that I got from my podcast, human potential at work, I interviewed Sandy Carter. Who’s with Amazon. She told me the story, but Mattel wanted to take one of their Barbies and give it artificial intelligence. And so a small team of programmers, you know, programmed Barbie, so that she could answer different questions and she would have artificial intelligence. And then they brought in some, some potential customers, a little girl, for example. And Barbie’s going to have a, the Barbie with artificial intelligence going to have a conversation with this little girl. And so Barbie says, you know, like we would say as adults, what do you want to be when you grow up? And the little girl says, I want to be a computer scientist.

Debra Ruh


And Barbie says, well, have you thought about a career in fashion? Right? The women were finished, ripping them apart, wheely because women are great in tech and stem in the sciences. But we found out that it was that, that Barbie was programmed by a small team of males. You couldn’t consider any diversity in your team, any diversity at all, if you’d had one woman on that team, one woman, she would have known immediately, we’re going to kill you. If you do that, that’s ridiculous. We are not putting up with not being included anymore, but diversity equals innovation and creativity. And I w I say diversity in the largest sense of the word, diversity from different cultures, different backgrounds, different religious beliefs, different colors of skin. You love different people. People with disabilities. Diversity is so beautiful. We got to stop acting like it’s an add on when it’s convenient for us.

Nathaniel Schooler


Right. I mean, I think also certainly with, with AI to eliminate like, bias, right? Like, I know you’re big into AI and you’re big into like ethical AI and these kinds of things. And, you know, I’m, I’m really involved in that kind of space as well. Right. So, so, you know, I was, I was on a panel, a round table discussion with IBM and some very, very clever people from wired and all these fancy magazines and things, and like 2015. Right. And that, at that point, I was kind of scared about AI. And I was frightened about, about robots taking jobs and things. And I wrote very prolifically around that, around that area. But now after reading the second machine age, after talking with you and with other people, like who big into AI and ethics, like Monica Morrow, who’s, who’s big into that. Like ex Cisco engineer Payton’s within her name and stuff.

Nathaniel Schooler


Like now I’m not as frightened. Yeah. But the thing is, is that what I’m frightened of is I’m frightened of people not adapting fast enough to, to, to move from perhaps a job they’re in now into a job that could, could exist with the technology that’s available. Right. So that, that frightens me because people aren’t, they’re not, they’re just not learning because there’s this, there’s a, there’s an apathy in, in, in society. And I have issues with apathy. Yeah. If you want to get somewhere, right. Don’t just sit on your ass and expect everything to like, fall out the sky. You need to do the work. Right. We were talking about this before. Yeah.

Debra Ruh


Yep. Got to do the work. Even if society doesn’t think you should be paid for it, Lord forbid we’d be paid for social good work. And I am so far to that. But, and I’ve written about that in talked about that a lot on my shows too, but I was worried about artificial intelligence. Like you said, I was, I’m hopeful about it, but I was worried about it because we don’t have good data sets for different types of people. Like people with disabilities. We know that there are unconscious and sadly conscious biases built right into the artificial intelligence. I was worried about all the jobs that we were going to lose because people weren’t going to be, you know, they, they, weren’t going to be trained fast enough to do the new jobs. But then what happened was this like COVID virus, you know, this COVID-19 came in 33 million Americans have lost their job.

Debra Ruh


You know, that the numbers are really frightening, but it, I didn’t expect that was what was going to send us all home. And so many people were going to lose their jobs. So it’s now happening faster. And I’m actually encouraged that artificial intelligence, certainly artificial intelligence for good, for good. And you know, and I’ll say, Nathaniel, I feel sometimes like, I’m such a nag about this, but the younger generations are saying, we’re not going to work for you. We’re not going to purchase from you. We’re not going to support you. We’ll actually get on, you know, social media and we’ll attack you. If you were a bad corporation that are doing bad things, that you are sexually abusing women and, and you know, not doing anything about it and covering it up, which has had, you know, the, if you continue to not hire a diverse workforce and blah, blah, blah, but what’s happened all that disruption, we were expecting Nathaniel, well, it’s happened.

Debra Ruh


It’s happened now. And now we are starting to open up in the United States, even though we haven’t hit our peaks, that’s hold, we won’t go into that. But people are really frightened. And they’re saying, well, I don’t care if the government says to open up or not, I’m not doing it. I am hearing that over and over. But so technology technology, we got to rethink what it means and how we use it and how we can help each other with it. And these technology companies are going to be more important than ever before. And they do need to find their soul and keep their soul.

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah. I mean, I think it’s a, it’s a very, very big, big conversation because then you go into the minimum, basic income conversation and then you go into, you know, but it’s like actually, surely everyone on the planet should have minimum the minimum they need. Right. So, so let’s look at, let’s look at the big picture right now, which is all these office buildings are going to be closing. You’re going to have lots of new businesses, which are going to be like, you know, retrofitting the, the, the office buildings.

You’re going to have all sorts of new, new enterprises, right. Which are going to in essence become, I think the next wave of, of, of, of startup businesses are going to grow, you know, rapidly, right? Because the access to, to technologies, the access to people right now, as resources as well to partner in, in, in, in companies and stuff is, is, is huge because people have time on their hands, but I’m scared that in two months, time, things are just going to go back to normal. And this is the biggest problem. But, but I, I, I don’t think they will, but I, but I’m kind of, I think the new normal is, is, is, is, is kind of going to be interesting, right?

Debra Ruh


It’s going to take a while. And I would say, you know, a few things that I’ve, I’ve, I D I think, think, think, think, think, think, think all the time. But I heard a statistic that 40% of children during these times of crisis, 40% of children don’t have access to digital education. So, unfortunately, depending upon the pockets you’re in yeah. Too bad for you, you’re not going to get educated. That’s ridiculous. How can we for our society? Why do we think whether or not universal basic income is the right thing to do? I do know that the people that are the most vulnerable are the ones that are now on the front lines, taking care of us. You know, the African-American single mom taking care of her children, loving her children. She’s working three jobs on the front end. It’s what we’re seeing happen is once again, the disparity that always happens and you’re an undesirable, it’s one

Nathaniel Schooler


Time on helping undesirable. I’m really sorry.

Debra Ruh


I know it’s so ridiculous. And one time on Twitter, which is of course, where we met a white privilege was trending. And I thought, are you brave enough to go into that conversation?

Nathaniel Schooler


Well, that’s a big, that’s a big conversation, isn’t it? Because it’s because it’s like, well, okay, so us in the west, we like to think that opportunity’s everywhere and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. But actually, if you are, if you are stuck in that environment, you know, you, you can’t get out of that environment. You’re, you’re, you’re in essence, no opportunity. Isn’t everywhere. It’s there for the people who have resilience. And, and, but, but also it may never be there for some people because they’re actually stuck in an environment where it is impossible. Like you say, right. So

Debra Ruh


Yeah, if I can’t get education, if I can’t even get the F if I can’t even get food for my family and sadly with the, the way that the United States is handling the COVID-19 are our food supplier, supply chains are breaking down and people are, you know, going to bed hungry, even more people. You talked about these office buildings. Why don’t we? And I know that Google just announced that all of their engineers are going to work from home, at least through the end of 2020. I think that what’s going to happen. People aren’t going to start going back to work. They’re gonna, they’re gonna want to stay home and have this work-life balance. You want the most talented people you’re going to have to adjust to that. That will take some pressure off of mother earth. That’ll help us, blah, blah, blah. But what do we do with all those office buildings? I know why don’t we retool them and use them to help people that are homeless and people that are in situations where they’re living in places where the crime is high, because we’re not doing the right thing to educate and employment. Why don’t we use those office buildings to help people have decent lives? Why can’t we expect people at least to have decent lives, at least to have access to education so that they can better themselves? Yeah,

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah, yeah, no, I agree completely. I’ve got a friend who, who actually launched a nonprofit over in, where is it over in Africa? I think somewhere, basically her husband ran away with her three kids and like basically just disappeared from America and, and, and went to, to another country. Right. And so she was like, well, what, what can I do about this? Yeah. And so she thought, okay, I’m going to start a nonprofit. And I’m going to, I’m going to provide laptops and digital skills to kids yeah. In, in, in this country. Right. Tunisia, actually, I think it is. And big shout out to Melissa sassy if she’s, if she’s listening. Right. So

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah. So there you go. Right. So, so, so, you know, we’ve done quite a few podcasts and stuff together, but the thing is, is that she did that and it became like her superpower. Yeah. So, you know, if anyone sort of listening to this and they’re, and they’re worried and they’re stressed, it’s like, well, look, you know, stress and worry. It can be a catapult in your life to push you to do great things. Yeah. Like, and it’s like some of the things that you’ve been putting off doing, right. Like going live on YouTube or Facebook or whatever, you know, whatever it is, just get on with it. But you’ve got to have something interesting to say. Yeah.

Debra Ruh


Yeah. And I think you’ve got to be, that’s why I like your voice. You gotta be in light during these times. People are so freaked out and so scared. And they just, I mean, we just hit 80,000 deaths in the United States and we’re still going and we only have three hundred and forty three hundred twenty three hundred 40 million people. So it’s troubling to watch them. People are so scared and they don’t know what’s going to happen to the economy. They, so, and you and I talked about it. Sometimes we just do the work. We do the work I for years have been pumping money into my company. And my company has had, you know, successfully, you know, but I just always knew that we can make the world a better place by working together and to stop hiding certain people matter. And certain people don’t or decide that our earth doesn’t doesn’t deserve to be protected.

Debra Ruh


It’s it’s just ridiculous. And technology is so wonderful what we can do with technology. And then there’s the rainforest connection, which is, who is actually supported by Walway. But it is a nonprofit group in Texas that put these solar panels, using old phone technology. And they listen in the trees for chainsaws so they can stop the illegal chainsaw. You know, people from cutting down our mature trees that are the lungs of our planet. So great things can be done with technology, including the older technology to make the world work better. But we got to protect our living planet to see that. But,

Nathaniel Schooler


Well, I agree, but yeah, I mean, I do, I do agree with you, but I think, I think that, you know, we’re in, we’re in a very dangerous place right now because we can either, we can either go back and, and, and, and almost embrace business as usual, or we can say, well, actually I really didn’t need to travel so much. I really didn’t need to do all these things. Yeah. And I didn’t need all those items, but then, but then actually it’s going to implode. Yeah. Like it’s going to create a recession of its own. If consumerization dies, then we’re going to create a massive problem on its own. Yeah. So

Debra Ruh


The thing is,

Nathaniel Schooler


So you’re, you’re an expert in basically hiring people who are disabled, right? Like that’s, that’s, that’s in essence what, you’ve, what you’ve been doing through, through your, your sort of it’s like your purpose in life. Right. So, so that must be, that must be very, very rewarding.

Debra Ruh


I will say. Yes. I’ll say I started out. I actually, I do specialize in making sure that people with disabilities are employed in your workforce, but it’s a little different when I talk about, because I want to make sure that you’re including people with disabilities in your technology. So it has to be accessible. And by the way, captioning captioning is so powerful. 80 to 85% of videos are watched with the sound turned off. So if you caption, we all get the message. So I’m more about also encouraging big brands to do better in the world and to do tech for all a tech for good AI, AI for all, and education and focusing on the sustainable development goals. So it is about employment, but it’s only a small, a small piece of it. I am an employer of, in technology with disabilities, but I hire them because they’re so talented.

Debra Ruh


And so, but we also are very involved in social media and telling the stories of the brands that are making a difference. And I will tell you this, what I spent years doing was trying to catch big corporations doing good. And I had to like, look for it. I had to search for them doing good. And I’ll have people say, well, you shouldn’t support that corporation, Debra, because they’re doing all these bad things. Well, at a certain point, I was just trying to teach corporations to do good. We’re going to say, well, you do more good because corporations are made up of people. But now, now that everything’s shifted and everything’s changed. We have all this adaption is going on. I think it’s an opportunity for technology companies to sell more technologies, because I think people don’t mind buying during the crisis, but they’re getting more discerning.

Debra Ruh


I don’t want to buy it just to buy it. Is this going to help me? Is this going to help my family? I think they’re getting more discerning on how they spend their money. But I, somebody said to me, can you believe the United States government is giving, you know, money out to help us. Right? And they’re like, why don’t they just give it to, because it’s just going to go right to Amazon. This study said, and I said, but wait a minute. In the middle though, we are actually going to get goods that we need for our families. So it isn’t just going to one big corporation. We are deciding how we’re going to spend the money and we’re spending it on technology. I think probably more money’s being spent on technology right now, as people figure out how to work from home. And I just don’t believe that I don’t believe everybody’s just going to go back.

Debra Ruh


And in the first place, people are going to be afraid to go back to the buildings. They’re going to be afraid. I hear it all the time here. Well, I don’t care if that are the Virginia governor starting to open things up slowly on Friday. I’m not doing it. I’m F I don’t think my family is safe unless until we do the testing in the United States, and we know we’re safe, people are going to be, are afraid to do business as usual. And it’s going to go on for a long time. And the economic impacts as you’re saying, or,

Nathaniel Schooler


Well, I do well, you know, I do worry about, I do worry about the third world. And I worry about a lot of people because it’s like, well, actually, you know us in the west, we’ve, I mean, in England, we’re very lucky. We’ve got, we’ve got a government that is, that is really helping a lot of people. Yeah. You’ve got businesses that are helping people. You’ve got an air of caring in the environment, which is, which is quite strange. I mean, you know, you walk down the street and actually talk to people right now. Yeah. You, you know, you’ve got hotels that are not open and, and they’re actually giving a commendation to homeless people where the church, where I go to church on a Sunday, normally they’re actually doing breakfasts and lunches and dinners and things for the homeless yeah. In the city. Right.

Nathaniel Schooler


But the thing is, is that there are a lot of people out there that are, that are, that are furloughed. They’re not able to work. I mean, I’m just about to do an interview. My friend later, who’s a deputy manager of like a restaurant. Right. And, and he’s, he’s a really nice chat. He started his own podcast. Yeah. And he’s doing the work, right. Like he’s actually, he’s actually doing it. And it, and it doesn’t matter if you are disabled, if you’re able, if whatever, right. You need to do something. Yeah. Because otherwise you’re going to go crazy. If you, if you, if you’re stuck in doors, you know, you need to do something. Yeah.

Debra Ruh


I agree. And I think what’s really important about what’s happening right now is a lot of people have had time to think. They’ve had time to think, even if you have children running all over, I think they’ve had time to think about what did I want to do? What, what was the thing I could do to make a difference in the world? Who am I, I think there’s a lot of soul searching that’s been happening. And I think there are a lot of people that are, they’re not going to want to go back to the way it was. They’re going to, they’re going to want to contribute. And my government, my national, the federal government, the United States, I do not think that they’re doing a good job. We just passed 80,000 deaths in the United States. So I am not pleased personally, with the, the white house is handling this crisis.

Debra Ruh


But the people, the communities, the churches, the, the small businesses, we are all helping each other and going back to community, taking care of each other, there are heroes all over the world and all over the United States that are doing beautiful things. And there are many people with disabilities that are adding huge value to these conversations. Then I just sitting back waiting for you to help them know they’re out there helping you and helping everybody else. I work with a gentleman, laundry pew, who has disabilities, and he’s a podcaster, and he’s been putting out some of the most beautiful messages and they give me hope. Sometimes I’m sometimes I get terrified and it’s nice to have people out there talking about things and giving me hope too. And I’m trying to give hope also, but so you’re seeing the heroes be the, the, in the regular, you know, people.

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah. Yeah. I agree. I think, I think there is a lot of hope out there. There is, there are a lot of good people doing a lot of good things. I mean, I think, I think looking, looking at the big, the big picture yeah. Which is, which is, you know, when did we shut the country down? When did we stop people from coming here? When, when did we stop people leaving their homes, right. You, but you’ve got to actually look at that particular society. And if they are used to being told what to do like that, you can do that very quickly. But like in England, I’m not defending the prime minister. This isn’t a political conversation, but what this is, is an understanding of people. Right. And I, and I listened to a guy in Italy. I think it was either a mayor of a, of a city, or it was a, it was the prime minister. I can’t remember which, but it was an Italian gentleman. I saw this clip. And he said, if we had told everyone in Italy to stay indoors immediately, as soon as this happened, we would have had like riots in the streets. And actually, if you look at the type of people in America, that is probably what would have happened. And it even did almost happen.

Debra Ruh


Right. And it has happened. It and those people that went out and they were freeing Virginia and Minnesota, and well, now they’re all sick. And then some people are choosing not to wear masks and their supporters are not wearing masks and they’re dying. And some people are saying, you know, inject Bleacher, disinfected in you just saying, some people, some leaders are saying this. And it’s like, so I think one thing that people have to understand is that we really have to really think about who we are as people and what we believe in him, what we care about it and who, you know, where do you get your inspiration from? And because there’s so much fearful data out there, there’s so much fake information out there. That’s I, I, and I, you know, I was watching you and I are market influencers, and I watched some of the market influencers out there and how they’re participating in the conversations.

Debra Ruh


And, and I worry that they’re adding more fear to the conversation. And so I want to follow the market influencers that are adding value during the darkest times. And these are dark times for a lot of people are really, really afraid. You can feel the energy, you can feel the of people being afraid, and we’ve only just begun. Sadly, beautiful things are happening along the way, too. I mean, some of the shows that you been doing, putting out there, there were so powerful and we need places that we can go to be uplifted, especially when we get really scared and we all get scared. Sometimes we all do. You might look that fear and just do it anyway. You know, there was an old book that called, you know, look fear in the face and just do it anyway or something like that. And I always, it doesn’t. I had somebody asked me one time they were about to start a business. And they said, Debra, when did you overcome your fear of, you know, being an entrepreneur and it’s all on you and all that. And I said, oh, I never did overcome. I just learned to live with it. You know, I just handed up to a higher power coast. That’s how I make it through the day.

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think, I think the whole thing is actually is actually an opportunity. Yeah. All right. There are people dying and I do feel really bad that that’s what’s going on, but it’s an opportunity to digitalize everything that needs to be digital, right. To include everybody that actually wasn’t included before. Like, I mean, we’ve got a program over here in the UK where kids who haven’t got access to the internet are actually being helped to have that. Right. And that’s, you know, that’s, that’s quite encouraging really. That’s quite encouraging that the, the, I think it’s going to be very interesting to see what sort of comes from this. I think a lot more people will be included, but I think, but I think obviously there are going to be mass mass casualties. Right. And, you know, I’m trying to do what I can to help people. And I’m trying to put out some really helpful content and that’s all I can do. Yeah. I can’t do anything else. Right.

Debra Ruh


I think it’s important. I like some of the other ideas that you have about really trying to help technology companies know who are, who are the market influencers that really have engagement with real communities. And I just think there is so many things that we can do do. And I also believe that I really, it is hard walking. This, it is hard. The losses, I worry so much about my daughter who has down syndrome. I worry about my husband who has dementia. I worry, but at the same time, I’m sorry that we had to make it so difficult in do this, but we’re here. And I think we’re going to learn so much in the world going to be a much better place. And I think a lot of people are going to really say that is not the life I wanted. That isn’t the life I dreamed about when I was little, I don’t want to do that. What did you want to do? Who do you want to be? Well, the, my business failed and we were talking about my business tech access. It was a multi-million dollar business. And it fell during the financial crisis.

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah. I mean, it happened, it happened to a lot of people. I think, I think that now people aren’t so worried about these things. It’s like, look, you know, in America in particular. Yeah. It’s like, oh, that happened to you. No worries. What did you learn from it? Right. And, and like, that’s, that’s why now I’m kind of like, I’m kind of like, well, you know, I will talk to someone and say, so what went wrong there? And then, and then it’s like, oh, well, that’s what, that’s what happened. So, so then you take the experience, don’t you enter the next phase of your, of your life almost. Right. And you just get on with it. Yeah. And

Debra Ruh


We learned so much from the hardest times. They’re so hard. I remember when I was walking that path and so many people lost money, I lost so much money and we almost lost our home. It was really dicey. And I drew a little thing on the white board of two people, two stick figures, walking over red coals. And I would say to my husband, we’re almost through, we’re always through because I was the entrepreneur. And, you know, I felt so guilty at the time that we might lose our home because of me trying to do good work, but we didn’t, we didn’t. And I learned so much. I’ll tell you something. I did learn when I started my new company, route global impact and on March, 2013, I learned to never second. Guess my intuition again, I would second guess my intuition at tech access. And I would think, oh, no, that’s not logical. Deborah, you should do it the way the business 1 0 1 says, and every time I did that, I always lived to regret it. I don’t do that. Now, when I started root global impact, if my instinct or my gut or my, my higher being tells me my higher guidance says, don’t do it. Even if it’s so logical, I will not do it. I listen. Now I listen. I’m very obedient to the higher power. I am.

Nathaniel Schooler


Thank you. It’s been, it’s been, it’s been a, it’s been a joy Debra, and I really appreciate your time. And let’s, let’s definitely talk more at some stage in the very near future.

Debra Ruh


I agree. I appreciate your work. Thank you for everything you’re doing. We need to be light. We need to be light. We need to be the flashlight, the candles we’ve got to help each other. So

Nathaniel Schooler


Thanks for watching everyone.