Sign Me Up for Diversity and Inclusion
Last year, I did something I never thought I would do. I started to learn sign language.
I’m not deaf, but someone who is entered my life. I needed – and wanted – to be able to communicate clearly with him.
I manage a warehouse for AT&T in Hilliard, Ohio. We have a small team here – just me and 3 other people. We’re responsible for supplying technicians with the equipment they need to install DIRECTV in homes throughout Ohio. Each day, the techs come in, tell us what they need and we process their orders. We also restock the shelves as supplies dwindle.
As a manager, one of my most important responsibilities is to build and nurture a great team. We’re like a family here. It’s important for us to click. So, whenever we have an opening, I focus on finding the very best person to fill that role. I look for someone who isn’t just equipped to do the job, but someone who will fit nicely on our team.
When I had to fill one of our spots last year, I met with several candidates. One clearly stood out above all the rest. His name is Kamal Nasser.
Kamal’s resume is very diverse. Not only does he have experience working in environments like ours, he’s a designer and an artist. In fact, he designed display cases for priceless antiquities at a museum in Jordan before he moved to America 4 years ago to get married.
I felt Kamal would bring a valuable perspective to our team, so I offered him the job.
Kamal said yes. Or, to be more accurate, he signed yes. Kamal is deaf. He’s the reason I’m learning sign language. When Kamal interviewed for the job, he came with an interpreter. It was great, but I knew if I hired him, we would have to find a way to communicate directly with each other.
The way I see it, Kamal gave me an opportunity to better myself by learning a new language.
Would it have been easier to hire the second-best candidate? Maybe, but it would have been wrong. Kamal has since proven that he’s the best person for the job. He’s smart. He’s passionate. He’s a hard worker. He’s an all-around great guy. And he represents the value of a diverse and inclusive work culture.
Kamal has had a positive impact on many of our processes, including our commitment to a safe environment. Working in a warehouse can be a dangerous job if you’re not serious about safety. That’s why everyone who works here must memorize the AT&T safety creed:
No job is so important and no service is so urgent that we cannot take time to perform our work safely and in an environmentally responsible manner.
The entire team was having trouble reciting the creed. So, we all came together to learn it in sign language. And that did the trick. Now, not only can we all recite the creed word for word, we can sign it, too! We never would have thought to do this before Kamal joined our team.
Kamal continues to teach us new things each day. And he’s learning from us as well. While he can’t hear our voices, he can certainly see our smiles and feel the warmth our team has for him.
And, without saying a word, we know how he feels about us, too.