Disability:IN, the global organization driving disability inclusion and equality in business, in collaboration with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), released the 2022 Disability Equality Index (DEI) recently at Disability:IN’s 2022 Global Conference in Dallas.

The DEI is the world’s most comprehensive benchmarking tool for measuring disability inclusion in business.

The 2022 DEI reveals that more companies are employing people with disabilities in leadership roles than last year. Companies are also trying to make their corporate boards of directors more inclusive of people with disabilities, such as with amendments to their board nominating and governance charters. Download the DEI Report here.

“Disability inclusion is the new frontier of ESG investing and corporate social responsibility. To prepare for the future and create sustainable businesses, companies must engage their stakeholders with disabilities and weave disability inclusion into everything they do. We commend the companies that are taking demonstrated, actionable steps to unlock opportunities for people with disabilities at all levels of a company, including in boardroom roles,” said Ted Kennedy, Jr., Co-chair of the Disability Equality Index and board member of AAPD.

A record 415 companies —including 69 Fortune 100s—participated in the 2022 DEI, which saw 30% growth, up from 319 companies in 2021. New trends from this year’s participants:

– Leadership diversity: 126 companies have a senior executive (the CEO or within the first two layers reporting to the CEO) who is internally known as being a person with a disability, vs. 99 companies in 2021.
– Boardroom diversity: 10% of companies now have documents that govern nominations of board directors that specifically mention the consideration of people with disabilities, and 6% have someone who openly identifies as having a disability serving on their company’s corporate board.
– Supplier diversity: 74% of companies have expenditures with disability-owned businesses.

In addition, the DEI shows a high level of engagement in ongoing disability inclusion practices such as:

– Accommodations: 96% of companies offer flexible work options.
– Recruiting: 60% of companies have external disability hiring goals.
– Accessibility: 50% are investing in innovative technology to advance digital accessibility.

“The global talent shortage requires companies to rethink how they hire, develop and cultivate talent. Disability inclusion is now a business imperative,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO, Disability:IN. “The Disability Equality Index helps companies identify and incorporate the modern practices that are essential to disability inclusion, equality and belonging. These companies are positioned to win the talent war, strengthen diversity, improve profitability and shareholder returns, and achieve sustainable growth.”

CEOs, investors and lawmakers regularly cite the DEI alongside their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and other disability inclusion initiatives. Examples include:

– CEO Letter on Disability Inclusion: Over 115 CEOs, including 25 Fortune 100 CEOs, have signed this letter, calling on their peers to participate in the DEI.
– Joint Investor Statement on Corporate Disability Inclusion: A group of 31 investors representing more than $2.8 trillion in combined assets have asked companies they invest in to take steps to create an inclusive workplace for people with disabilities, citing DEI data used in an Accenture report, “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage.”
– Congressional Letter to the SEC: Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Senator Sherrod Brown sent a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler urging the SEC to create an effective workforce disclosure system that includes data on disability, citing the joint investor statement.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives are likely to gain momentum as the SEC explores a new rule on human capital management disclosure for public companies. Disability:IN and AAPD have called on the agency to mandate the inclusion of data related to disability status as part of any proposed rulemaking.

To register for the 2023 Disability Equality Index and learn more, visit Disability Equality Index.

[Source(s): Disability:IN, Business Wire]

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