Supporting Employees Living With Disabilities

Senior leader shares her personal story

Interview with Cathy Skala, vice president of Baxter’s Business Transformation Office 

Q: Can you tell us about your disability?

Cathy: I live with a number of auto-immune disorders, including Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), which causes the immune system to attack the body. Because of this, I experience a significant amount of pain in my joints… something I’ve dealt with for about 15 years.

Q: How does it affect you on a daily basis?

Cathy: RA makes it especially difficult for me to go up and down stairs, so I use elevators whenever they’re available. Sometimes when I’m out in public, I feel like people are judging me, like they’re thinking “Why doesn’t she just take the stairs like everyone else?” Baxter’s Deerfield headquarters, where I work, has elevators all throughout the office buildings and I think I know where every single one of them is located! 

Q: How have your colleagues supported you?

Cathy: Many colleagues and team members are aware of my condition and have been extremely helpful. When they see me struggling with some physical task, they offer to help. And, if we have a meeting elsewhere on Baxter’s campus they’ll often walk with me and ride along in the elevator. Simple gestures like that make me feel included and supported.

Q: What would you like other people with disabilities to know about Baxter?

Cathy: I’m proud to work for a company that has made a strong commitment to inclusion and diversity, including for people with disabilities. Last year, we were recognized by two prominent publications as an outstanding company for I&D, which I think is great. Additionally, these efforts really are good for business: diverse teams bring different perspectives which lead to greater innovation.

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