Photo Credit: Tate Tullier. An American Sign Language interpretation of this article is available to watch here.

March is always an especially reflective time for me. This month, I join women and men throughout the nation and the world in both honoring women’s history and celebrating International Women’s Day. This is a great time not only to reaffirm my advocacy for gender equality and honor the many women who paved the way before and alongside me, but also to recommit to my own inclusive and purpose-driven leadership.

“Inspire Inclusion” is one of this year’s Women’s Day themes. “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress” is a second theme from the United Nations. Both are valuable reminders that together, collectively, we can create a better world not only by inspiring others to value and advance the inclusion of women but also by advocating for the continued investment in women. 

As Gloria Steinem once said: “When unique voices are united in a common cause, they make history.”

Still today, when it comes to gender equality, there is much work left to do, new history to be made. As a woman with more than 30 years in the tech industry, I am well aware of this. Across most global industries, on too many workplace metrics, from board seats to compensation, gender gaps remain and they are by no means small. As example, in 2023, only 29 of the Fortune Global 500 business were led by women. 29 of 500! 

In some ways, despite prevailing statistics, becoming Chief Executive Officer was my destiny. Even as a young girl, guided by my grandmother’s strong values and unwavering confidence in me, I always aspired to lead, to do good, to make a meaningful difference in our world.

Today, I am deeply fortunate and honored to be serving the past nine years as CEO of ZP Better Together, one of the leading technology services providers to the deaf and hard of hearing communities. It is here, working alongside one of the most passionate teams and communities, that I have had the opportunity to implement nationwide advocacy campaigns designed to rewrite decades-old policy and ensure communications equity for deaf people. It is here that I have pledged to serve as a member of CEO Action, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance workplace diversity and inclusion. It is here with our dedicated team that I have had the opportunity to lead ZP’s successful efforts to be named a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion not once but for four consecutive years. 

Importantly, it is here, through this social change and equity work, through allyship with the deaf community, and through my work with leading organizations like CEO Action and Disability:IN, that I have learned the most about what it takes to be an inclusive leader today. 

How to Boost Your Own Inclusive Leadership 

With Women’s Day and Women’s History Month as a backdrop, I share some of the leadership lessons I have learned these past several years fighting each and every day for full and equal communications access for the deaf community. I firmly believe that these are in so many ways universal strategies that can boost inclusive leadership skills for people across all industries and at all levels, not just CEOs or those in the C-Suite. I also believe that without question, these strategies can help advance inclusion initiatives not only for the deaf community and women but for all, especially for underrepresented groups.

People First 

My grandmother remains one of my greatest mentors. She was one of the most loving people I have known and one of the values she lived by was putting people first. This continues to guide my leadership each and every day. Prioritizing people is a bedrock of inclusive leadership.

Get Really Uncomfortable

Comfort will never advance inclusion. Comfort will never bring social change. Comfort will never  make new history. More than anything you have to have very tough conversations. You have to be willing to and get really uncomfortable. For the past several years, fighting for communications equity for the deaf community, hardly a day went by where I was not pushing the edges of my own comfort zones. Inclusive leadership takes courage and as Brene Brown says: “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”

Disrupt for Good

Inclusive leadership requires us to disrupt for good. I call this purpose-driven disruption. Many times disruption is a constant of inclusive leadership. I know it has been for me. The disrupting can be a daily thing and required for long periods of time. It is rare that we can advance inclusion without having to disrupt the status quo and longstanding policy.

Be Tenacious

Simply put: you have to be willing to put everything on the line, to fight each and every day.  On so many days, literally hundreds over the past several years, I along with the community and the ZP team could have easily given up. Thankfully, we never did. In the end, we succeeded, effectively helping to bring historic changes and funding increases to the federal video relay program. Our fight for communications equity was so worth it, every single day of it. 


Successful leadership is never perfected but rather a commitment to continual improvement. This March, I once again reaffirm my commitment to creating a more inclusive world. I remain deeply honored to be leading ZP as CEO and I hope some of my own experiences these past few years, fighting for the deaf community’s human right to equal communications, might inspire your own inclusive leadership in the years ahead.

Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!


  • Sherri Turpin is CEO of ZP Better Together (ZP), a leading provider of communications solutions, including video relay technology, and interpretation services for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Proficient in American Sign Language, Sherri is a member of Fortune’s CEO Initiative; a signatory to CEO Action, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance workplace diversity and inclusion; and serves as a board member of the New York School for the Deaf, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Foundation, and Avita Pharmacy. Under her leadership, ZP was recognized as a 2023, 2022, 2021 and 2020 Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion, earning a score of 100% on the Disability Equality Index (DEI), a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN.