Celebrating The Disability Inclusion Advantage research launch at the NYSE. From left to right: Senator Ted Kennedy Jr., Chad Jerdee, Jenny Lay-Flurrie of Microsoft and Jill Houghton, CEO of Disability:IN.
The numbers don’t lie. Creating an inclusive workplace for everyone—including persons with disabilities—is simply the right thing to do, socially and morally. It’s also good for business.
Opportunity for change
New research from Accenture shows that companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting more persons with disabilities in their workforces have outperformed their peer group.
While previous research has shown that employees with disabilities offer substantial business benefits—including increased innovation, improved productivity and a better work environment—the new research reveals that best-in-class companies participating in the Disability Equality Index have also performed better financially.
The report, Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage, jointly produced with Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), reveals that companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting more persons with disabilities in their workforces have seen higher revenue, net income and economic profit margins. The research also shows that if just 1 percent of persons with disabilities join the labor force, the U.S. GDP could see a boost of $25 billion (yes, billion).
There’s ample opportunity to make change. As persons with disabilities continue to be underrepresented in corporate America, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there’s an untapped talent pool of 10.7 million people—people who, with the right training and environment, offer unique talents and opportunities to grow labor force diversity and enhance a corporate culture of inclusion and diversity.
How leading companies are taking action
The world’s leading companies are accelerating disability inclusion as the next frontier of corporate social responsibility and mission-driven investing. The study describes four key actions for companies to focus on to attract, hire, retain and advance diverse talent:
Employ: Organizations must ensure that persons with disabilities are represented in their workplace. Beyond hiring, employers should implement practices that encourage and progress persons with disabilities.
Enable: Leaders must provide employees with disabilities with accessible tools and technology and/or a formal accommodations program.
Engage: To foster an inclusive culture, organizations must generate awareness-building—through recruitment efforts, disability education programs and grassroots-led efforts (for example, an employee resource group).
Empower: Organizations must create empowering environments for employees with disabilities through mentoring and coaching initiatives, as well as through skilling/reskilling programs, to ensure that they continue to advance and thrive.
We are committed to fostering inclusion among persons with disabilities and ensuring that every one of our more than 459,000 people feel like they belong.
We have made great strides toward innovating solutions that help create an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities. Two examples include:
Accenture Labs developed a solution called Dhvani, which means “sound” in Hindi. Here, artificial intelligence translates spoken words into text in real time. Using Microsoft Cognitive Services, this innovative solution allows people with hearing and speech impairments to participate in Skype for Business calls, listen to webcasts and converse with co-workers.
We also developed a new AI-powered solution to help the visually impaired improve the way they experience the world around them and enhance their productivity in the workplace. Drishti, which means “vision” in Sanskrit, provides smartphone-based assistance using AI technologies such as image recognition, natural language processing and natural language generation capabilities to describe the environment of a visually impaired person.
We continue to push boundaries to increase disability hiring and inclusiveness through the lens of:
Accommodations – providing reasonable accommodations to help persons with disabilities perform at work is table stakes.
Accessibility – ensuring our workplace is accessible both from a technology standpoint and in the physical work environment.
Attitudinal changes –educating our people on what a disability is and what it is not, so our teams can move past potential unconscious bias.
Accountability – industrializing and taking action by setting internal targets to hire persons with disabilities and intentionally matching the right skill set with the right opportunity.
Accenture is committed to fostering an inclusive, accessible, barrier-free work environment that supports our people with disabilities across the globe.
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