What Do Beyonce And Lizzo Have To Do With The Evolution Of The Disability Economy?

Culture change can be seen as a long tedious slog that often moves at a snail’s pace. Yet, there are moments when we must acknowledge a transformation happening in real-time that is both significant and telling. Over the past month or so two iconic musicians on the pop culture scene, Beyonce and Lizzo released music that contained ableist language. The critical response was quick to point out the severity of the use of this language and that it was not okay. Both Lizzo and Beyonce recognized that the lyrics needed to be changed and each issued statements that a new version of the songs would be released.

While this scenario is an example that harmful language around disability persists, it is also an illustration that there is a sea change happening. However, it is important to ask if this situation is a question of social awareness, or is it one where the market is speaking, and the artists are appealing to the market itself? Truth be told, this is not an either-or question, rather it is a representation of where we are in time. Disability culture is in a moment of great flux and for the first time, the market itself is truly beginning to flex its considerable muscles. We are seeing it everywhere from the rise of the adaptive clothing market to accessible technology that is impacting everything from web design, and gaming, to various other growth areas that are redefining the relationship of disability to the larger cultural trends of the time.

The response of Beyonce and Lizzo was not only necessary to help reframe the narrative and squash ableist language, but it also serves as another sign of change. The apology of Lizzo on social media and the re-recording of the songs from both musicians is an action that signifies the recognition that people with disabilities value is on the ascent. It is this very act that should be a key signifier for any company and its leadership who intend to engage in a larger disability strategy. Whether it’s an individual artist or a larger company, the value of respect, understanding, and acceptance is critical in the vernacular of business and disability.

Having this level of emotional intelligence or EQ will be a central mission for anyone who is dealing with the disability market in any capacity. In an age where social media has created a global town square where there is an ongoing dialogue and the maxim “Nothing about Us, Without Us” is central to the identity of the disability community, companies must be ready to have this exchange with the larger community and be prepared to take the good with the bad.

The Beyonce and Lizzo situation opens the doors for companies to see this as a template for what one can do toward engaging in positive change. The lessons learned here can be viewed as an introduction to incorporating EQ tactics in everything from communications, and marketing, to crisis intervention. While the response to the usage of such ableist language should no longer be tolerated on principle, this is also a financial decision that can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. Too often cultural sensitivity is seen as an afterthought, it must be clearly stated, that it is not! It is an essential ingredient to understanding the markets and how to engage with an audience and develop a bond with a potential customer base by building a level of trust that is critical to the parlance of sales and marketing for the Disability Economy.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathankaufman/2022/08/05/mindset-matters-what-do-beyonce-and-lizzo-have-to-do-with-the-evolution-of-the-disability-economy/