Companies that Lead in Disability Inclusion Outperform Peers Financially, Reveals New Research from Accenture

Companies that lead in disability inclusion drive more revenue, net income and profit, according to a new research report from Accenture  in partnership with Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

Building on the 2018 landmark report on disability inclusion at work in the United States, the follow-up research, titled “The Disability Inclusion Imperative,” explores disability inclusion amid major technological advances, changes in geopolitical dynamics and the effects of a global pandemic across 346 companies in the US. These companies participated in the Disability Equality Index (DEI), a leading global benchmarking tool that scores businesses on their disability inclusion policies and practices.

“Disability inclusion is a topic close to my heart, and it is imperative, both from a business and societal aspect, to build an accessible, inclusive environment where all our people can belong and thrive,” said Jill Kramer, chief marketing and communications officer, Accenture, and co-chair for the cross-industry coalition of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Chief Communications Officers (CCOs) to advance accessibility in marketing powered by Disability:IN.

The report identifies that, over the last five years, the business case for hiring persons with disabilities has become even stronger. Specifically, companies that have led on key disability inclusion criteria over that time saw 1.6 times more revenue, 2.6 times more net income and 2 times more economic profit than other companies in the DEI. Further, leaders are more likely to outperform industry peers in productivity by 25 percent.

Since 2018, the number of people with disabilities in the workforce has swelled from 29 percent to 37 percent with most progress occurring since February 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. This increase can be attributed to increased work opportunities at home—making it easier for people with disabilities to participate in the workforce and an increased awareness and understanding of digital accessibility and inclusion in the hiring process. Additionally, newer and emerging technologies are excellent sources to advance disability inclusion, including AI-powered platforms.

“For too long, people with disabilities – individuals who are perfectly qualified and overwhelmingly willing to work – face enormous barriers to being offered a job,” said Ted Kennedy, Jr., disability rights attorney, Connecticut state senator and chairman of the AAPD board. “Accenture’s recent report provides compelling evidence that disability inclusion actually accelerates business performance, brand loyalty and shareholder returns.”

Additional Accenture research has showed that 76 percent of employees with disabilities do not fully disclose their disabilities at work. Further, the 2023 DEI report found that only 4.6 percent of employees self-identify their disability status with employers. When the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began requiring companies to provide a human capital overview in their filings, voluntary mentions of disability inclusion at work are notable. Organizations can ensure that disability inclusion remains a fundamental aspect of their overall sustainability and responsible business practices by incorporating ESG principles into their accountability frameworks and publicly sharing outcomes.

Through the research, Accenture and Disability:IN have developed a framework to help business leaders become more intentional about disability inclusion:

  1. Access: Organizations must remove barriers and provide equal access to employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, including recruitment, hiring and career advancement.
  2. Awareness: Leaders must raise awareness about disabilities so organizations can foster a culture of empathy and respect, challenge stereotypes and promote a more inclusive mindset among employees.
  3. Advocacy: Organizations must create an environment for individuals to feel comfortable disclosing their disabilities and forming employee networks and help amplify their voices and ensure their perspectives are heard.
  4. Action: By integrating various disability inclusion initiatives under a single umbrella, organizations can ensure that they work in harmony to create a more accessible and equitable workplace.
  5. Accountability: Organizations must be able to measure their progress and share what they learn to demonstrate their commitment and dedication to improving disability inclusion.

“People with disabilities are a tremendous source of talent and innovation as well as market share. Last year, 485 companies leveraged the DEI to benchmark their inclusion efforts and build for sustainable, long-term performance,” said Jill Houghton, president and CEO, Disability:IN. “The business case is stronger than ever, with companies achieving 1.6 times more revenue, 2.6 times more net income, and 2 times more economic profit. We encourage companies to measure their progress and use the data to identify tangible ways to advance disability inclusion across their enterprise,”

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