Diversity, equity, and inclusion have become hot topics in corporate America. In the wake of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements, and a pandemic that galvanized millions of workers to leave their jobs, companies are scrambling to reimagine their talent strategy and culture to support diverse employees.
But even in this moment of inclusiveness, people with disabilities are being left behind. When companies ask what they can do to improve, they turn to Disability:IN, a global nonprofit organization that helps businesses create tangible opportunities for disability inclusion and equality.
The United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006, the treaty that’s a major catalyst in the global disability rights movement. Yet little progress has been made in employment: People with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed as those without disabilities.
“Even in today’s labor shortage, too few companies are tapping into this highly qualified talent pool,” says Jill Houghton, the organization’s president and CEO. “Disability inclusion increases labor-force diversity, enhances corporate culture, and appeals to a younger generation that cares about inclusive workplaces and social issues.”
A flagship program is the Disability Equity Index, which helps Disability:IN create more understanding for companies in their quest to build a welcoming and inclusive workplace. Partly due to this initiative, Fast Company has recognized Disability:IN as one of its Brands That Matter.
HELPING COMPANIES MEASURE PROGRESS
More than one billion people worldwide are disabled. People with disabilities face unique challenges in the workplace. Many are unwilling to admit their disability because of fear that their employer won’t support them or that being seen as disabled may hurt their career.
The Disability Equity Index serves as a benchmark for how well companies are performing in recruiting and other initiatives. In industries where there’s a labor crunch, the DEI provides valuable data to support the business case for hiring disabled talent. “There’s coalescence between what jobseekers want and what people with disabilities have demanded for years—flexible work hours, the ability to work from home, and an inclusive environment that prioritizes worker well-being,” Houghton says. “To accelerate the economic recovery, the workforce needs to include people with disabilities.”
Disability:IN counts blue-chip CEOs as supporters for its #AreYouIn campaign. And the organization is leading an ESG initiative to ensure new board diversity and human capital management metrics include people with disabilities. To date, more than 30 institutional investors have called on companies in their portfolio to take actions to improve disability inclusion.
Inclusion Works, Disability:IN’s consulting arm, has helped 80 companies hire more than 140,000 people with disabilities and partners on DEI programs such as Dell Technologies’ autism-at-work hiring blueprint and Facebook’s fireside chats with candidates with disabilities. For Google, a self-ID initiative led to a sharp increase in the number of employees who disclosed their disabilities. Meanwhile, a joint project with Accenture found that companies that championed disability inclusion had higher revenues, net income and profit margins.
“We’re laser focused on highlighting disability as the missing piece in the global conversation on inclusion,” Houghton says. “We meet companies where they are and identify the concrete actions they can take to evolve their enterprise and attract the next generation of diverse workers. All they have to do is say that they want in.”
Visit Disabilityin.org to learn more and register for the 2022 Disability Equality Index.