Hannah Olson: Making Disclosing Disability Accessible, Safe…Fun?
Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! Today, for our 400th interview, I’m excited to cruise around with Hannah Olson, the co-founder and CEO of Disclo, who’s joining us from Atlanta, Georgia. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: Welcome, Hannah! What challenge are you addressing with Disclo?
Hannah: Congrats on your 400th interview, Spiffy! I’m honored to be here today. To answer your question - disclosing your disability or health condition to your employer can be scary, confusing, and, often, risky. Yet, over 60% of Americans need accommodations to complete their job tasks. Disclo is the first platform helping employees to safely ask for, verify, and act on accommodation requests at work. Our vision is to make disclosing your disability accessible, safe, and hopefully even fun.
Spiffy: That sounds fantastic! What motivated you to do it?
Hannah: I have personally lived with various chronic health conditions and seen first-hand how uncomfortable it is to disclose and ask for accommodations. After running one of the most-used disability job platforms in the world (Chronically Capable), we discovered a unique and unmet need in the space and decided to act on it. We think Disclo is exactly what’s missing in the workplace, and we can’t wait to see how many folks will get access to workplace adjustments so they can bring their full selves to work!
Spiffy: This is a great segue into my next question about how you and Disclo are working towards a more equitable world. Can you elaborate on what you’ve already told me?
Hannah: Of course! Despite the fact that over 60% of the U.S. population lives with chronic illness and disability, many people hold themselves back from disclosing this to their employer. This results in poor outcomes for both employers and employees. Can you imagine a world where people don’t have to leave a significant piece of their identity at the door each day? We believe that Disclo has the potential to create more inclusive and accessible workplaces for all.
Spiffy: I like the sound of that world very much! Now I know Disclo is a fairly recent company, correct?
Hannah: It is! We launched Disclo just this past month, which is the first-platform tackling this problem in the workplace. We can’t wait to see folks disclosing on the platform and getting access to the support they need to be their best selves at work.
Spiffy: As an entrepreneur, I’m sure you’ve experienced your share of failure. What can you tell me?
Hannah: Well, when I entered the workplace, I struggled to disclose and ask for accommodations. This greatly impacted my early career. Rather than giving up, I decided to fight back and support people like me in finding and retaining a career while living with illness and/or disability. After launching and running one of the most-used disability recruiting platforms, we’re now expanding our efforts and supporting anyone in the workplace who may need adjustments in order to perform at work.
Spiffy: I have two more questions for you today. What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
Hannah: I recently learned that people respond well to questions. Being inquisitive helps break the ice. If someone asks me a question, I always add a question in my response. That said, what's something you all have learned from reading this article?
Spiffy: I see what you did there and I couldn’t agree more. After all, questions are why I get to share so many wonderful stories from around the galaxy. Readers, let Hannah know! We’ll be tagging her contact details on our social media when we share this. Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience, Hannah?
Hannah: There are numerous benefits to disclosing your illness or disability. However, it's entirely up to you when and if you decide to do so. We think disclosure = access, but we also understand that it's a very personal decision. Hopefully, Disclo will help take the fear and confusion out of the equation, so you can disclose and get access to what you need!
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Hannah—it’s been an honor!
Hannah Olson is the co-founder and CEO of Disclo, the first software for employers to collect, verify, and manage health disclosures and employee accommodation requests. Hannah’s own experience navigating her career while undergoing intensive treatment for Lyme disease sparked the idea for her first venture, Chronically Capable, which is now one of the largest and most-used disability recruiting platforms. (First published on the Ladderworks website on June 6, 2022.)© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.