According to the 2015 consensus, almost 13% of the American population has a disability. Diversity inclusion in the workplace has been a hot topic lately, but people with disabilities (PWD) are often lost in the mix of inclusion discussions. While people of all different genders, races, ethnicities, religions, etc. should all have equal opportunity in the workplace, so should people of all different abilities. As 13% of the American population, they certainly earn their keep in the conversation.

Plenty of research has been done about why diversity inclusion is necessary and beneficial to our workplaces. Hiring PWD will not only improve workplace culture, but also the business as a whole.

The Stats

An article by Fast Company reflects on a study done by Accenture of 140 U.S. companies. According to the findings, “those [companies] that offered the most inclusive working environment for disabled employees achieved an average of 28% higher revenue, 30% greater economic profit margins, and twice the net income of their industry peers between 2015 and 2018.”

Higher shareholder returns was another huge finding for companies labeled as “disability inclusion champions,” as they were twice as likely than their peer group to experience this benefit. Companies without the official label that were still strongly supporting the needs of PWD were four times as likely to have higher shareholder returns than their peer group.

The Effects

John M. O’Connor, author of Forbes article Why You Should Hire Someone With A Disability, is a career coach, outplacement and career services leader, and father to a son with a disability. He recounts an important conversation, “I recently spoke to a friend and small business owner who employs a number of people with severe disabilities in various roles. He told me it was the best and smartest business move he ever made. Why? It created an atmosphere of goodwill around the entire workplace. There is a sense of care and camaraderie that he couldn’t have generated from even 1,000 leadership retreats.”

Accommodating people with disabilities sounds like a huge responsibility, time commitment, and perhaps a financial burden. This is a common misconception, and the part that’s not talked about is the level of compassion and camaraderie that results from hiring PWD. Company culture and a sense of community transforms with this inclusion. 

O’Connor also states a few other business advantages, such as “Creating new insights and tactics for serving the population with disabilities,” “Powerful, authentic stories of employees and customers served,” and “Wealth of creativity and innovation in all areas of the business.”

The Proof

Many companies have been actively hiring PWD and reaping the benefits. These companies are more than just mom-and-pop shops and local neighborhood diners. Big, powerful companies rave about their inclusiveness and the prosperity it has brought their company in various ways. 

In 2017, the Huffington Post published an article that reported on four Fortune 1000 companies that also scored 100 points on the Disability Equality Index, created by US Business Leadership Network. The companies were interviewed about how their inclusion of PWD has influenced their business. 

Here’s a bit of what each company said:

“These talented professionals bring unique experiences that foster innovation and new ideas while contributing to a culture of warmth and true inclusion.” 

– Scott Pitasky, Executive Vice President and Chief Partner Resources Officer, Starbucks

“In our continuing efforts to attract and retain employees with disabilities, we recently added new online accommodation tools for requests and case tracking;  increased accessibility of our Internet website, including the Careers section; expanded accessibility at our locations; and we have adopted a more focused approach for posting job requisitions with disability-related job boards.”

– Kymberlee Dwinell, Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Northrop Grumman Corporation

“AT&T is company where everyone’s differences are authentically embraced, valued and vital to our business inside and out. People with disabilities are no exception. I’ve seen this personally, because it’s part of my charge.”

– Cynthia Marshall, SVP Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer, AT&T

“Finally, people with disabilities often have well-honed problem solving skills and a degree of adaptability that are especially valuable in today’s fast changing business environment. At Ernst & Young, we learned this early in our history, as our co-founder, Arthur Young, was deaf and had low vision. Unable to successfully practice as a courtroom lawyer because of his disabilities, he turned to the emerging field of accounting, where he became an innovator and entrepreneur.”

– Lori B. Golden, Abilities Strategy Leader, Ernst & Young, LLP

The companies listed above are booming national businesses and their commitment to inclusion speaks volumes to their community culture and business technique. The positive correlation between disability inclusion and successful business is undeniable. iGenCo is just one of many companies who believes in the power of inclusion and is eager to help other companies get started. Find out more about how iGenCo can help you meet your diversity needs here.

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