What companies gain by including persons with disabilities

wheelchair

(Josh Appel, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Chad Jerdee, General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer, Accenture


More than one billion people in this world are living with some form of disability. That’s one in seven of us. Eighty percent of these people acquire their disability between the ages of 18 and 64 – the average working age for most – and they are 50% more likely to be unemployed.

At Davos 2019, a panel of business leaders including Accenture’s North America CEO Julie Sweet discussed the power of disability inclusion, led by Binc founder Dr Caroline Casey. At a time when there are more job vacancies than workers in several countries, businesses are realizing the advantages of recruiting from a diverse and inclusive talent pool. Companies in the US that are advancing disability inclusion are also achieving significant gains in profitability, value creation and shareholder returns. However, some companies are still not recognizing the importance – and potential business benefits – of hiring persons with disabilities.

In the US alone, there are 15.1 million people of working age living with visible and nonvisible disabilities, many of whom are un- or underemployed. If companies were to embrace disability inclusion, they would gain access to a new talent pool of more than 10.7 million people, suggests Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage, a recent report from Accenture in partnership with Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). This represents a significant opportunity to strengthen their business and the economy.

Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage
Image: Accenture analysis based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2018

Why are companies not capitalizing on this untapped resource? Some buy into the misconception that it might be costly for businesses to accommodate specific needs of persons with disabilities. However, our research indicates the opposite – that those companies embracing best practices for employing and supporting persons with disabilities in their workforce are also outperforming their peers and achieving tangible financial benefits.

In fact, the research shows that more inclusive companies are twice as likely to have higher total shareholder returns than their peers, on average. Additionally, companies that have become more inclusive over time are four times more likely to have total shareholder returns that outperform those of their peer group. When it comes to profitability and value creation, these companies achieved 28% higher revenue, double the net income and 30% higher economic profit margins over the four-year period we analyzed, on average.

These gains more than offset the cost of accommodating persons with disabilities. A separate study by the Job Accommodation Network revealed 60% of workplace accommodations can be made for free, while the remaining cost is $500 per employee, on average.

Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage

Of course, the benefits of disability-inclusive hiring practices extend far beyond the bottom line. Persons with disabilities must be creative to adapt to the world around them. Strengths such as problem-solving skills, agility, persistence, forethought and a willingness to experiment – all of which are essential for innovation – are an inherent part of reality.

More inclusive workplaces also perform well when it comes to staff retention. Studies show that working alongside employees with disabilities makes non-disabled individuals more aware of how to make the workplace more inclusive and better for everyone. Staff turnover is also lower – by up to 30% – when a well-run disability community outreach programme is in place.

Then, of course, there are the reputational benefits. A survey undertaken by the National Business and Disability Council in 2017 found that 66% of consumers will purchase goods and services from a business that features persons with disabilities in their advertising, while 78% will purchase goods and services from a business that takes steps to ensure easy access for individuals with disabilities at their physical locations. Diversity-inclusive supply chains are also correlated with stronger financial returns, brand enhancement and innovation.

Several companies are raising the bar for disability employment and inclusion. T-Mobile has started sponsoring National Wheelchair Basketball Association youth events, where staff speak with children about what it means to work at T-Mobile, opening children’s eyes to new opportunities. Bank of America has created a support services team comprised of 300 people with intellectual disabilities to manage fulfilment services and external client engagement.

At Boston Scientific, the onboarding process includes a virtual tour and videos from leaders speaking about their diversity and inclusion (D&I) commitments, sharing valuable information for individuals to understand resources available to all employees. CVS Health has refocused its training programmes, from philanthropy to skill search, to capitalize on the unique qualities brought by persons with disabilities, such as creativity, problem-solving and loyalty.

Many companies have seen tangible benefits from disability inclusion, and they are finding that employing persons with disabilities isn’t as challenging as often assumed. For example, Microsoft has built a successful disability hiring programme specific to people on the autism spectrum. The goal of this programme is to attract talent and build an inclusive approach to support individuals on the autism spectrum that will contribute to the way they work as a company in building and servicing its products. The Hiring Program is a multiple-day, hands-on academy that focuses on workability, team projects and skills assessment. The event gives candidates an opportunity to showcase their unique talents and meet hiring managers and teams, while learning about Microsoft as an employer of choice.

At Accenture, we found that being honest about where you stand can be a hard yet crucial first step toward becoming a more inclusive company. As one of the first companies to publicly disclose the demographics of our US workforce by gender, ethnicity, veterans and persons with disabilities, we learned that transparency creates trust.

In 2018, 4.5% of our people in the US have voluntarily self-identified as having a disability, up from 3% the previous year. Accountability and creating an environment of trust where employees feel comfortable self-identifying as having a disability are important measures of inclusion.

Understanding the experiences of our people at Accenture was a critical first step to learning more about how to make disability inclusion an advantage. In partnership with Disability:IN and the AAPD, we analyzed the disability practices and financial performance of the 140 companies participating in the Disability Equality Index. The study Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantagerevealed four key actions that companies should take to bring about change.

Employ

Organizations must ensure that persons with disabilities are represented in their workplace and in their talent pipeline. Beyond hiring, employers should implement practices that encourage and progress persons with disabilities.

Enable

Leaders must provide employees with disabilities with accessible tools and technology and/or a formal accommodations programme. To improve awareness and integration across teams, companies should consider introducing formal training programmes for employees without disabilities to learn about the tools and accommodations available to their colleagues.

Engage

To foster an inclusive culture throughout the organization, companies must invest in awareness-building through recruitment efforts, disability education programmes and grassroots-led efforts (for example, employee resource groups) and events.

Empower

Companies must offer mentoring and coaching initiatives, as well as skilling/reskilling programmes, to ensure that persons with disabilities continue to grow and succeed. Persons with disabilities should occupy roles at all levels, including top leadership positions.

To unleash the trapped value within the persons-with-disabilities community, organizations must assess where they are by leveraging benchmarking tools such as the Disability Equality Index, self-identification of their current employee base, and employee engagement and awareness surveys.

At the same time, CEOs and investors need to understand the strong qualitative and quantitative business case for robust disability inclusion programmes. By making companies aware of the potential gains, sharing success stories and demonstrating how to build a more inclusive talent pipeline, we can quickly get more persons with disabilities into the workforce.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

General Elections in Spain: Twitter organises the first digital debate to empower young people.

Educational disadvantage starts from age 10

Italian voters put again the European Peoples in the Brussels picture

Christine Lagarde: the three priorities for the global economy

Measles claims more than twice as many lives than Ebola in DR Congo

DR Congo elections: ‘Excessive use of force’ in campaign must be avoided, says Bachelet

‘Stop and listen’ to victims of terrorism, UN chief urges in message marking international day

MWC 2016 LIVE: Getty chief says one in four new images from phones

UN rights experts call on Russia to release Ukrainian film-maker whose life is in ‘imminent danger’

Syria: ‘Deplorable’ violence in Idlib against civilians, humanitarian workers must ‘stop immediately’: UN Coordinator

Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges MEPs to put words into action

A day in the life of a refugee: We should be someone who helps

Nigeria: Top UN officials say more support needed to ease humanitarian crisis and rebuild lives in conflict-ravaged north-east

GSMA Announces New Keynote Speakers, Event Updates for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: violence surges in Nigeria, anti-Semitism on the march, taxing pollution to tackle climate crisis, and more

Infringement – Commission takes Italy to Court for its incomplete regime of access to genetic resources

How technology will transform learning in the COVID-19 era

UK keeps its Brexit plan secret or there is no strategy at all whatsoever?

Member states jeopardising the rule of law will risk losing EU funds

Factory workers are facing a mental health crisis. Here’s how to respond

Mali: Presidential elections critical to consolidate democracy, says UN peacekeeping chief

A refugee from Syria cries out: “I’m not just a number!”

Why protesters disrupted London Fashion Week

European Commission and European Investment Fund launch €75 million BlueInvest Fund

The Next Web 2014, the biggest European conference on Internet so far and the Absence of Brussels from Amsterdam

Afghanistan can rely on international support along harrowing road to peace, and beyond

Transparency is key to inclusive employment and government integrity

MEP Cristiana Muscardini @ European Business Summit 2014: International Trade in Europe

Europeans show record support for the euro

Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon should be free to earn a living

EU leading in global agri-food trade

Paris agreed with Berlin over a loose and ineffective banking union

‘Spectre of poverty’ hangs over tribes and indigenous groups: UN labour agency

Parliament cuts own spending to facilitate agreement on EU budget

Artificial Intelligence has a gender problem. Here’s what to do about it

A new world that demands new doctors in the fourth industrial revolution

A Sting Exclusive: “Consumer expectations for the 2015 UN summit on climate change”, Director General of BEUC Monique Goyens outlines from Brussels

EU on track to end use of chemicals harming the ozone layer

Strengthening security through an EU-wide information system

Talent is worldwide. Opportunity is not. How can we redistribute it?

COP25: ‘Signals of hope’ multiplying in face of global climate crisis, insists UN chief Guterres

State aid: Commission approves €200 million Danish loan in support of the Travel Guarantee Fund for travel cancellations due to coronavirus outbreak

European Employment Forum 2013 and not European Unemployment Forum 2014

Is deflation a real danger for Eurozone?

The UN supports Europe’s military action in Libya and the Mediterranean; Russia and China agree

Financial markets appear to have rallied. Here’s one way to mitigate further shocks due to COVID-19

‘Score a goal’ for humanity, says Mohammed, celebrating winning link between sport and development

This UK footballer just won free school meals for kids in the summer holidays

Trade in fake Italian goods costs economy billions of euros

Reject passivity and embrace ‘responsibility for our future,’ Lithuania’s President tells UN Assembly

JADE May Meeting last call for participants – join us in Zagreb

Afghanistan: UN envoy urges further extension of ceasefire with Taliban, as Eid ul-Fitr gets underway

New malaria vaccine trial in Malawi marks ‘an innovation milestone’, declares UN health agency

GSMA announces new keynote speakers for 2018 Mobile World Congress

EU integration: MEPs want to end permanent opt-outs from EU law

To Brexit, or not to Brexit…rather not: 10 Downing Street, London

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation procedure into measures in favour of Béziers airport in France and Ryanair

UN health agency launches week of action to ban lead paint

At UN, Cuba slams US ‘criminal’ practices undermining country’s development

Taking care of our routes: the elderly in the time of COVID-19

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s