Disability Inclusion - Five Companies Leading the Way
When most people think of DEI, they think of race, religion, or sexual orientation. But businesses that are truly committed to overcoming bias within their organizations don’t stop there. They go beyond that to include older workers, employees with unique viewpoints and most importantly, they actively recruit from a candidate pool that includes people with disabilities. These organizations also recognize that different types of disabilities, whether physical or developmental, require thoughtful consideration about how to best accommodate an individual’s unique needs and ensure they feel valued.
And while hiring people with disabilities is the right thing to do, it ultimately makes businesses stronger. A study conducted by Accenture found that organizations prioritizing accessibility had 28 percent higher revenue, and people with disabilities represent the third-largest market segment in the United States. With hiring being a particular challenge right now for many businesses, it’s the perfect time to expand your universe of candidates and consider ways to attract and retain persons with disabilities. BCT Partners, an organization is devoted to creating a more equitable society, highlights five companies that are leading the way and have all been named best places to work for disability inclusion as a result of their efforts.
Bloomberg is committed to an open and accessible workplace. They “provide workplace adjustments and accommodations to their offices for disabled people so that every employee is accepted and empowered to bring their authentic self to work.” To better accomplish their goals, Bloomberg has partnered with organizations like EmployAbility and Lime Connect to increase accessibility in their hiring process. They also have formed numerous employee resource groups to help workers with disabilities feel welcomed. In order to increase empathy and support for disabled co-workers, Bloomberg partnered with Beyond Our Sight, so employees could experience what a visually impaired individual may face.
Boeing has received a perfect score on the Disability Equality Index five years in a row. They partner with Disability:In, a non-profit devoted to global business disability inclusion and are part of their network of over 400 corporations working to expand opportunities for people with disabilities. Boeing regularly participates in their main recruiting event, Disability:In Conference in Chicago which enables Boeing to meet and interview a large pool of candidates for a variety of different career opportunities within their company. In addition, Boeing is a member of TheValuable 500, a global collective of 500 CEOs and their companies dedicated to achieving disability inclusion.
Caterpillar has created an employee resource group called Abled & Disabled Employees Partnering Together (ADEPT) which is devoted to creating a more inclusive workplace. Their goal is to support diversity and inclusion by attracting individuals with disabilities, developing partnerships for professional growth, and engaging in company and community outreach to increase awareness. One such example of ADEPT working towards their mission is when they partnered with the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR). NFAR has a tech program which teaches autistic young adults software testing skills NFAR (to prepare them for employment in the high-tech industry. Working together, NFAR and Caterpillar developed a program that would leverage students’ strengths to improve the quality of Caterpillar products. The collaboration was so successful that students won a Diversity and Inclusion Excellence award for their achievements on improving coding habits and work processes at the company.
Fidelity’s Enable (Access, Ability, Achievement) employee resource group started in 2016 with 6 members and now includes over 80 employees. The group is focused on creating a positive and inclusive work environment for employees of all abilities to empower them to reach their full potential through greater awareness and understanding. They strive to strengthen the experience of their disabled customers, while also establishing Fidelity as a destination employer. Some of the group’s projects have included increasing accessibility to washrooms, desk, and computer equipment, allowing for flexible work hours/settings, and bringing in occupational therapists to help employees with disabilities. In addition, Fidelity has hired from the Holland Bloorview Ready to Work program, which is a rehabilitation hospital that also helps young disabled people find jobs.
Delta created an Advisory Board on Disability to ensure they are the carrier of choice for customers by providing thoughtful, reliable and innovative service to the disabled community. The Board is comprised of Delta Frequent Flyers who have disabilities, and they make recommendations on compliance, training, policies, and anything that impacts the travel experience of disabled individuals. One major outcome that’s come from this group is a new sign-language tag for airline employees, so that customers can immediately tell that signing is a communication option. Their employee resource group ABLE also works with the advisory board to implement company ideas to make sure that they align with passenger input. This has led to stronger hiring and retention for employees and clearer and understandable service policies for customers.
In conclusion, the companies that we profiled have all taken unique approaches to recruiting and retaining employees as well as understanding the needs of their disabled customers. However, most importantly, these organizations have realized for their efforts to succeed they must take steps to increase the empathy of their employees. One way of doing this is by helping them understand the obstacles that their disabled colleagues face. The innovative approach that Bloomberg took in their partnership with Beyond Our Sight did just that. In the long-term, these are the kind of novel ideas that will mitigate both conscious and unconscious bias ensure that disabled employees truly feel they are an integral part of the company.
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