Kayley Petersen on persistent unconscious biases

Industry leaders discuss business disability inclusion at the 2023 Disability:IN Conference

“Persistent biases that create blockers for individuals with disabilities, I think come from misunderstanding and not getting proximate to the community,” says Kayley Petersen, senior manager, DEI at Discover Financial Services.

WorkingNation sat down with Petersen at the 2023 Disability:IN Conference in Orlando.

They say there are ways to get past those biases. “At Discover, we’re doing that through a couple of different ways – through our inclusive leadership challenge and our inclusive teams challenge, where we give a platform and permission to individuals to tell us who you are and what you need in order to feel included and belong.”

Petersen continues, “We also are having intentional conversations with the disability community within Discover to understand where our opportunities are in terms of our practices and our talent processes.”

“Through those conversations, we’re able to identify what opportunities we have, where we need to shift either mindsets through education, or look at our systems and our practices to understand how those are netting out equitable or inequitable situations – and then addressing the root causes of that.”

Petersen notes employees should feel they can self-identify their own disabilities in their workplaces. “It’s a big opportunity, not just at Discover, but in all companies to create psychological safety – when people do open up and do share that they have conditions to be met, the environment is able to meet them where they are, get them the accommodations, the accessibility, or have the conversations in order to create an environment where they can show up, be productive, and be their best selves.”

Learn more about Discover Financial Services.