“Be brave and driven by purpose. Don't be a DICK.” (On creative work and environment) – Laura Jordan Bambach
So, who is Sulaiman, our Founder & Chief Purpose Officer? ThisAbility was started by creative collaborator and adventurer, the award-winning Sulaiman Khan, an independent consultant, speaker, and writer on Divergent Leadership, Creativity, and Equitability (characterised by equity or fairness; just and right; fair; reasonable: equitable treatment of all citizens). Sulaiman is relentlessly and unapologetically determined to be the best, active intersectional feminist possible. He works tirelessly to destabilise the accepted narratives of creativity and disability too, pushing to see this in his lifetime. Also, he is passionate about creativity, collaboration, technology, inclusivity, advocacy, innovation, storytelling. Here's Sulaiman's story in his own words:
"As someone who happens to have Muscular Dystrophy, of South Asian ancestry, is an active intersectional feminist, and who has been actively working with the creative industries for several years, I have struggled to break into the “wonderful world of communication” (particularly in the advertising industry) despite having intense passion and relentless energy. Although, I no longer believe that creativity only lives in the advertising industry and now aim to work with the broader creative industries and beyond. I am frustrated by the lack of support for me and others (who are more talented than me) in the same situation to participate in the creative industries.
I am tired of waiting for change and feeling alone.
So, what public problem am I working to solve and why?
PROBLEM: In part due to the accepted narratives around creativity and disability, there is a severe lack of disabled talent in the creative industries.
WHY: I’m part of what the UN calls the ‘world’s largest minority,’ a group estimated to be at 1.3 billion people, an emerging market the size of China. This market is one that has a combined spending power (when you include family and friends that add another 2.3 billion potential consumers who act on their emotional connection to disabled people) of over $8 trillion in annual disposable income. Despite this, we’re one of the world’s most marginalised communities. Our needs have consistently failed to be addressed, even though anyone could join this ‘minority’ at any point in their lives.
ThisAbility was borne of frustration at lack of representation of disabled talent in the creative industries. At best, we are treated as Stella Young famously coined as ‘inspiration porn’ – that’s not good enough.
We’re life hackers by nature – because we have to overcome social, economic and daily barriers. On a personal level, I want to be who I needed when I was younger, and I have decided to be that brave change and lead this meaningful and purposeful rebellion positively.
I will do as the (Founder and) Chief Purpose Officer: This role can be defined as, “how you connect purpose to an individual, so they know what they need to do in their roles and how do you help them see personally how they connect with values and behaviours.” Read more about Chief Purpose Officers here. My definition of a Chief Purpose Officer is a Creative Director but with a sense of “who” and “why”. My ambition is to build, take ownership and have a real impact through my activities. I will act as a mentor to my team and our talent; and they will be given the opportunity to build a shared sense of community, empowerment, and collaboration through empathy, creativity, and emotional intelligence.
Started in November 2016 in the UK (but with global efforts to connect with creative disabled talent from across the world), this is why I felt compelled to start this adventure after writing a blog post about disability and the media in 2015. I don't know what lies ahead, but I am ready and not afraid to embrace any challenge that I may face. So, join ThisAbility – Inclusively, daringly forwards with me, and see where this adventure leads us.
Welcome to a new era of visibility: ThisAbility.
As my shero, Cindy Gallop, best said: 'You will never own the future if you care what people think.'
Stay tuned for further updates."