"I delivered an inclusion first for P&G and the UK"
Sumaria, Special Consultant for Inclusive Design
I’ve been with P&G for 18 years and from Day 1 I was given everything I needed to make an impact with my work. Initially I was working in IT. I have a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa and have been blind since I was 16 years old, so I use assistive technology that converts text to speech. I’ve always been passionate about how technology can really change lives and businesses.
For example, I believed there was a benefit in packaging all the required technical responsibilities in running a brand social media program, into a single role. So, I introduced the Digital Production Manager role. First, I trialed it with our Pampers group. It became very popular especially amongst our brand website teams – making it easier for them to ensure they had best in class standards. Within just 6 months, I expanded this role and pulled together a team of 23 managers across Philippines and China making sure individuals understood the vision and how they could make it come to life for their country and brands.
Working with such well-known brands was intriguing to me, but it surprised me just how big the company was. Even with the size of P&G, people were so open to doing things new ways. Everyone here may not always have the answers you need, but if you have a suggestion and are proactive, they are constantly willing to give it a go. People were prepared to make the investment that it took to bridge the gap and level the playing field for me.
Knowing that everyone was open to new ideas and experiences, I wanted to launch the UK branch of the People with Disabilities group (PWD) in a way that people could actually connect with. That inspired me to create the Disabilities Challenge. My coworkers got the chance to move through an office and interact with our products while simulating a disability. While I was doing this, I realized that there was such a huge potential to improve our products, and to make them even more accessible to all people.
So, the Disability Challenge went viral within P&G and I ended up in contact with the CEO of the company and his leadership team. They went out of their way to meet with me and I described how I’ve always been passionate about accessibility and I’d love for that to be my role. A week later, I got my ideal job offer – which was becoming the Special Consultant for Inclusive Design.
No one was doing what I’m doing now. I’m coming up with thought leadership on what inclusive design is and how we build that into everything we do. So far, I’ve helped produce an audio descriptive ad – the first of its kind in the UK – that makes our advertising more accessible for those with vision impairment. We are also working on making sure our products work for people of all ability levels, and highlighting those that already do.
P&G is definitely living its mission. In fact, my role is proof of that. I’m really living my dream job because I get to work on something that I am totally passionate about. And P&G has been supporting me the whole way. From Day 1, there are so many processes that are in place to make sure everyone gets what they need to perform at their peak.
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