Megan Belden, Director, Client Service & Co-lead, ADEPT, Central U.S., Nielsen

I was first exposed to our Abled and Disabled Employees Partnering Together (ADEPT) ERG during my first year at Nielsen as a recent graduate. I was immediately inspired by Nielsen’s ERG structure and how ERGs leverage the diverse talent in the organization to drive stronger business impact. I have a neuromuscular genetic disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and before coming to Nielsen, I wasn’t certain how to discuss it in the workplace. Although my wheelchair makes my disability quite visible, I often felt that I had to downplay my disability and prove that I was still capable. Luckily this was not the case for me at Nielsen, and I had the privilege to become a co-leader for the ADEPT ERG for the Central region in the U.S.

Nielsen’s ERGs helped me to grow confident in my identity as a young woman who has a disability by reinforcing that diversity is critical to our business, because we all deserve the opportunity to perform at our peak and it is critical that we reflect the consumers we represent in our measurement. Aside from the personal aspect of feeling like I can be myself at work, ADEPT has provided me with access and visibility to our leaders, professional development opportunities and the ability to help make our culture more inclusive for people with disabilities.

There has been so much growth in our inclusion efforts in the last few years, but I think one of the most meaningful was when we were able to leverage our ERG to create a publicly available report on the buying habits of consumers with disabilities. Our ERG saw an opportunity to use our data to help the market better understand the value of the disability market so that our clients can begin to innovate and create for such an important and growing consumer segment. To have a voice in that process and see the industry and our clients embrace the results has been extremely rewarding. That impact is long-lasting and has a ripple effect in how Nielsen can influence inclusion in the industry and greater community.

My ERG experience has also greatly influenced my day job as a client service director and vice versa. The two roles have become integrated in the ways that I interact with my team and clients. I don’t see diversity and inclusion as working in parallel to the business, but rather as the driving force behind our business growth.