In 2017, only 18.7% of people with disabilities were employed, compared with 65.7% of people without a disability. The biggest barriers to employment seem to be biases on the part of employers, or the perception that it will cost too much to employ and accommodate people with disabilities.
However, results from the 2018 Disability Equality Index (DEI) have revealed that more and more U.S. companies are prioritizing disability inclusion in the workforce. The DEI, a joint initiative with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN), ranks the Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion in America. The Index is a voluntary tool that enables businesses to recognize the areas in which they are doing well, and where improvement can still be made – for example, informing job applicants that they can request special accommodations during the interview (which only 39% of companies surveyed do). This year, 126 major businesses scored 100%, including AT&T, Bank of America, Dell, and Microsoft.
How are the companies that are truly committed to diversity taking steps to prioritize disability inclusion?
One example is Google, whose TechAbility program works with a non-profit to recruit and hire students with disabilities for full-time jobs while offering support and mentorship. Meanwhile, Specialisterne, a Danish startup, which works with companies like Microsoft and IBM to connect people with autism to high-paying jobs in the tech industry. According to David Casey, the Chief Diversity Officer at CVS Health (and one of the companies that scored 100% on the Index), “It’s important to recognize that people with disabilities are part of our customer base. We’re reaching into a community that is often overlooked. It’s a no-brainer for us that this is one area where we draw talent from. It’s a safe bet that anyone over the age of 10 knows someone with a disability.”
Today, more and more companies are recognizing the importance of building workforces that reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. By prioritizing transparency and accountability, businesses are making strides towards become increasingly accessible to people with disabilities.
- Ashley Miller