Gene Boes is President and CEO of Northwest Center, where he has served since 2018. Northwest Center works to promote DE&I: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Started in 1965, the Northwest Center has spent over 50 years serving children and adults with disabilities. Prior to his work with Northwest Center, Gene had an impressive and successful career. He worked in consulting and leadership roles for Loft9, Microsoft, Deloitte, as well as serving in the US Navy and holding an adjunct professorship at Seattle Pacific University and Seattle University.
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- As Gene says, “Until everyone is allowed to engage and contribute, none of us reach our potential.” [7:30] That’s the mission and the core belief of the Northwest Center. The organization works for full inclusivity because that’s ultimately how everyone succeeds.
- “The four founding mothers continue to impact every zip code in the United States.” [9:50] Gene told a great story about the founding of the Northwest Center, and how the organization got nationwide legislation passed.
- “The truth of it is disability is not always visible.” [11:45] The fact is, we need to examine our definition of disability. It’s important that we understand disabilities aren’t always clear to the naked eye. Gene talked a little bit about this and how crucial it is.
- “People with disability are not broken. They don’t need to be fixed.” [12:20]
- “There’s an obstacle. There’s a challenge that they have to overcome to live successfully through everyday life. But the truth is we, the abled, put those obstacles in place and it’s really our responsibility to take those obstacles away through accommodation and being more thoughtful.” [12:26]
- “A lot of effort with Northwest Center is around education.” [17:30] The Northwest Center knows that education fuels change. So, they practice constant outreach to improve the lives of DE&I people around the nation.
- “Disability hiring is good for business. Don’t do this because it’s socially responsible. Certainly don’t think of it as charity – it’s not.” [21:28] Gene told me how disability hiring can benefit businesses. All too often, business owners think of hiring DE&I people as just a ‘good deed.’ That’s the wrong way to look at things.
- “It’s an enormous business benefit to be inclusive, but it’s not easy.” [31:20] Ultimately, hiring DE&I is hugely beneficial for a variety of reasons. But that doesn’t mean it’s simple – Gene tells me why.
- “At Northwest Center, we have nearly 1,000 employees. I work for 1,000 people. They don’t work for me, I work for them. So when you think about having the biggest impact as a leader, I think listening is an incredibly important trait.” [42:17]
- “To lead with practical love day in and day out is to remind yourself at the start of every day what you’re there for: to lift other people up.” [43:35] We ended with Gene’s thoughts on practical love and love in action. These were some tremendously insightful words on the importance of carrying love with you during your workday.
Mentioned in this episode:
- Inc. article
- Northwest Center website
- Northwest Center on Facebook
- Northwest Center on LinkedIn
- Northwest Center on YouTube
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