This past summer, results from the 2019 Disability Equality Index (DEI) were unveiled by Ted Kennedy Jr., bone cancer survivor, amputee and Board Chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) recognizing top-scoring companies as “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion.” The record-breaking 180 businesses that participated in the 2019 DEI represent leaders across 28 business sectors, including financial services, technology, insurance and health care.
The Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a unique, joint initiative of Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). It serves as the nation’s most comprehensive annual benchmarking tool allowing America’s leading corporations to self-report their disability policies and practices. This evolving index objectively scores each corporation on a scale from 0 to 100—100 representing the most inclusive. The DEI was developed by the two national leaders in consultation with the appointed DEI Advisory Committee, a diverse and voluntary group of experts in business, policy and disability advocacy.
In its fifth year, the DEI continues to see an increase in year-over-year participation, with the number of top-scoring companies more than tripling to 156 in 2019 as compared to 43 in 2015, signaling a steady growth in disability inclusion across all industries.
“The DEI helps companies measure their own progress on disability inclusion and challenges them to improve their policies and practices – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s also good for business,” said Ted Kennedy, Jr., disability rights attorney and board chair of AAPD. “Research shows that companies that champion disability inclusion significantly outperform their peers across key financial indices including revenue, net income, profit margins and shareholder returns. AAPD is truly impressed by this year’s DEI participation and we’re proud to collaborate with the business community to prioritize industry-wide disability inclusion practices.”
“The DEI is designed to promote and advance disability inclusion practices and policies within corporate America that lead to better employment outcomes for and inclusion of people with disabilities, as employees, customers and suppliers. When businesses include people with disabilities, everybody wins,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of Disability:IN.
The number of participating businesses with a disability-focused employee resource group (ERG) sponsored by a senior executive has increased from 64% to 86%. As of 2019, 93% of businesses audit their public-facing websites for accessibility, compared to just 57% one year ago. These participating businesses represent over 8.6 million employees, 3.7% of which self-identify as having a disability.
The comprehensive efforts of participating DEI businesses highlight trends within industries and opportunities for improvement.
Indicators of commitment to disability inclusion:
- 93% of companies report having a senior executive who is recognized internally as being a person with a disability and/or as an ally for the community.
- 84% of companies have a company-wide written statement of commitment to diversity and inclusion that specifically mentions disability.
- 92% of businesses encourage employees with a disability to self-identify, and 95% have a confidential process that allows them to do so.
Opportunities for disability inclusion improvement:
- While 93% of businesses utilize a company-wide engagement survey, only 36% review the survey results for employees who have identified as having a disability.
- Only 54% of businesses have a diversity council that specifically recognizes disability inclusion as an area of focus.
- Just 30% of businesses have company-wide disability-focused goals in place for supplier inclusion and diversity.
The 2019 DEI Report dives deeper into the insights of the 2019 DEI results and can be accessed here: DisabilityIN.org/DEIReport2019.
Companies can register for the 2020 DEI at https://www.disabilityequalityindex.org/register.
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