- The number of companies that scored an 80% and above on The Disability Equality Index (DEI) more than quadrupled to 205 from 43 in 2015, according to a report released July 15. The DEI, facilitated by Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), is an annual benchmarking tool for the Fortune 1000 companies and the top 200 revenue grossing law firms in the U.S. to measure their inclusion against competitors.
- In 2020, 247 companies participated in the DEI, representing a U.S. workforce of 11 million people, according to Disability:IN and AAPD. Financial services, healthcare and technology were the top participating industries. Companies in those industries that scored 100% on the index included PwC, CVS Health and Dell Technologies. Industries with the least participation included chemical, engineering and construction and information services. The report indicated growth in employees who self-identify as having a disability — 5.5% in 2020 compared to 3.7% in 2019.
- The majority (85%) of businesses that participated in the DEI have a company-wide written statement of a commitment to diversity and inclusion specifically highlighting "disability," according to Disability:IN and AAPD. An accessibility expert is also available at 70% of the companies to resolve accessibility and compatibility issues people with disabilities may experience when using technology systems.
The American Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights legislation signed into law July 26, 1990, prohibits discrimination against workers or applicants who have disabilities.
"As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA, it is wonderful to see the progress made by these companies, and we hope to see continued progress and support for the DEI over the next 30 years," Maria Town, president and CEO of AAPD, said in a statement.
Research has shown that inclusive work environments for people with disabilities supports employees, and as a result, the company becomes more profitable. Accenture, which received a 100% score on the 2020 DEI, released the report "Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage" in 2018. Researchers analyzed 140 companies participating in the DEI. Over a four-year period, disability-inclusive companies had, on average, 28% higher revenue, 30% higher economic profit and double the net income and than the other companies in the DEI, according to the report.
"We stand to boost the American GDP by up to $25 billion, if we hire just 1% of the untapped talent with disabilities," a coalition of CEOs at major companies stated in a letter written to encourage participation in the 2020 DEI. A global investor coalition, "representing more than $2.8 trillion in combined assets," led by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Oregon State Treasurer Tobias have called on companies they invest in to become more inclusive of people with disabilities, the letter stated.
Being more inclusive of people with disabilities also means leadership needs to pay attention to compensation disparities.
"People with significant disabilities have trouble getting employed, and often when they get employed, they are what we call underemployed," Chai Feldblum, partner at Morgan Lewis, told HR Dive in a recent interview. "That is, they are not employed at the level that their talent and ability should actually place them at … and because they often have trouble getting jobs, that is why they are taking jobs that are lower paid even though they're overqualified in a sense."