The #DisabilityAdvantage

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Jill-Houghton-PhotoThe #DisabilityAdvantage
By Jill Houghton

Collectively, people with disabilities are one billion people strong. What’s more, we cross all diversity segments: age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Often, our experiences with disability propel us to devise new products or ways of doing things that enhance life for everyone. In short, we have—as this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month succinctly sums up—“The Right Talent, Right Now.”

At Disability:IN, we—in coordination with our nationwide network of affiliates—endeavor to empower businesses to tap this talent, every month. Our goal is disability inclusion and equality, and we are pleased to help businesses continuously improve in this regard. Consequently, we strive to foster a culture of disability inclusion in corporate America. Many of our board members and staff—including myself—are people with disabilities, and we believe that disability is our strength.

We also believe it is businesses’ strength. In fact, we know so. A study published last year by Accenture shows that companies that improve disability inclusion over time outperform those that don’t. Specifically, companies identified as leaders in disability inclusion had, on average over a four-year period, 28 percent higher revenue, double the net income and 30 percent higher economic profit margins than their counterparts not on the list. This analysis was based on historical, anonymized data from the Disability Equality Index (DEI), which we sponsor annually in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

This data is critical, and we’re pleased that it is not only driving inclusion, but also influence. For example, earlier this year a group of investors representing more than $2 trillion in assets, signed a joint investor statement on corporate disability inclusion. This statement encourages their respective portfolio companies to take action to increase disability inclusion.

Information gleaned from the DEI also helps provide the foundation for Inclusion Works, through which we directly help corporations committed to advancing their disability inclusion initiatives and connect them with peers to share best practices. As of September 2019, our 32 participating companies have collectively hired more than 30,000 individuals with disabilities.

While there’s a long road ahead, every one of these hires gets us closer to our goal of an inclusive global economy, one where people with disabilities participate fully and meaningfully and contribute their talents, now and in the future. Indeed, we aim for the day when our organization is no longer needed, because all companies understand and gain the #DisabilityAdvantage.

Disability:IN is a non-profit organization committed to advancing disability inclusion and equality. It has an Alliance with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and is a member of the Campaign for Disability Employment.

About the Author
Jill Houghton is the president and CEO of Disability:IN, a CDE member organization.

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