- Discussions on disability inclusion are on few C-suite agendas, according to new research by EY on behalf of #valuable, an advocacy organization for people with disabilities. According to Disability Confidence: The Business Leadership Imperative, most global executives (56%) seldom or never discuss disability, even though one in seven people worldwide have a disability. The study found that only one in 14 of high-level executives consider themselves an individual with a disability, and of this number, one in five don't feel comfortable admitting they have a disability.
- The research also showed that discussions on disability inclusion were more likely to occur when senior leaders with a disability were visible or when they had a family member with a disability. "Although 7% of leaders identified in this survey have a direct connection to disability, there are very few leading high-profile voices for disability inclusion," said Caroline Casey, #valuable founder. "In the last 30 years, bold business leadership has played a crucial role in driving social change. Now is the time for us to see a bold leader stand up for disability."
- Businesses largely ignore the value of workers with disabilities, which is akin to dismissing a market the size of Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan combined, Casey said. The world's one billion individuals with disabilities have a global employment rate that is half that of those without disabilities.
As unemployment began to drop substantially in 2017, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities also dropped, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers. And as job growth slowed in March 2018, people with disabilities made significant gains in employment and were re-entering the workforce, BLS records showed — but unemployment rates for individuals with disabilities remains significantly higher than for those without. As more employers focus on diversity and inclusion policies, disability may get more attention.
"I think a lot of programs are not necessarily focused on people with disabilities," Tom Foran, vice president of underwriting and product development at The Standard, previously told HR Dive. "Employers may be missing a huge opportunity. The disability group is probably the only minority group that anyone can join at any point in time."
Workers have become increasingly vocal about issues at their workplace, and workers with disabilities are no exception. At Google, employee Cathy Fitzpatrick challenged the tech giant's accommodation policy, highlighting the need for workspace accommodations for workers with injuries or personalized communication resources for people with autism. Google recently softened the language of its disability accommodation policy not long after November's Google salkout.
In an August interview with HR Dive, David K. Fram, director of the National Employment Law Institute's ADA & Equal Employment Opportunity Services, said that HR can train managers to say five simple words to workers with disabilities to prevent ADA-based legal claims: "How can I help you?" He recommends employers find simple accommodation solutions and document them; engage in the interactive process and document each step taken; provide preferential treatment, as long as it doesn't create undue hardship to the company; and respond immediately — and appropriately — to co-workers' questions.