Don’t miss out on your opportunity to participate in the Best Places to Work Survey. Registration now open for 2017 Disability Equality Index.

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Washington, D.C. (Sept. 8, 2016) – Today, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) officially open the registration process for the 2017 Disability Equality Index (DEI). Companies interested in participating in the 2017 DEI must register by Jan. 13, 2017. To register, view the 2017 DEI survey questions, or the DEI FAQs, visit the DEI website.

New this year, AAPD and the USBLN expanded the criteria for participation. Specifically, in addition to Fortune magazine’s 1,000 largest publicly-traded businesses (the Fortune 1000), American Lawyer 200 firms can now participate. Other companies or organizations that are welcome to participate in the DEI include the following, provided they have 500 or more full–time employees in the U.S.:

      • Private sector employers that are not owned by a larger U.S. incorporated entity.
      • Businesses that serve as the U.S. subsidiary of a foreign–based multinational business.
      • Foreign–owned private companies on behalf of their U.S. operations.

The 2016 DEI was completed earlier this year by 83 Fortune 1000-size companies across a variety of industries; two-thirds of these companies top the Fortune 500 list. A comprehensive list of the DEI top scoring companies deemed the “2016 DEI Best Places to Work” can be found on the DEI website.

Companies that participated in the 2016 DEI shared what they like about the DEI survey. Here are a few responses: 

      • “Truly like the broad, inclusive scope of the areas addressed. Excellent depth and really like the way it holds us accountable.”
      • “The DEI survey helps drive our organization to continuously strive to be an inclusive culture.”
      • “The survey allows the individual completing it to interact with subject matter experts at all levels which creates more awareness.”

Aggregate results for the 2016 DEI are also now available on the DEI website. Here is an example of one of many key learnings:

      • 93% of DEI respondents reported that they included information about disability inclusion in their new hire orientation curriculum. 80% of companies also had additional disability inclusion training curriculum available for employees, above and beyond orientation. Fewer companies (57%) made this training required for managers. Companies that scored 100 were more likely to provide such required training to their managers, at 74%.

"The DEI is an effective, non-punitive tool that has fostered relationships between the disability and business communities that will ultimately lead to more employment opportunities for people with disabilities and better inclusion of people with disabilities as customers, suppliers, and employees," said Helena Berger, President and CEO, AAPD. "Research shows that diversity in the workplace unlocks innovation and market growth, so embracing the DEI and the power of differences is not only the right thing to do but increasingly the necessary thing to do to succeed in today's marketplace."

“The DEI provides a roadmap for advancing disability inclusion by enabling companies to see both strengths and areas of opportunity that exist across their organization, and provides a means to benchmark against their competitors and businesses as a whole,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO, USBLN. “As we continue to work with our partners within corporate America to improve disability inclusion, we are heartened to see the DEI best practices shared and continued year over year growth. We look forward to working with employers that participate in the 2017 DEI to continue to advance disability inclusion.”

A few of the areas businesses showed the most improvement since the inaugural DEI include having:

      • A disability-focused employee resource group
      • An information and communications technology accessibility expert
      • Disability inclusive marketing materials
      • Training on handling requests for accessible formats

Companies that score 80 points or higher on the 2017 DEI will be awarded the “2017 DEI Best Places to Work” designation.

About the Disability Equality Index® (DEI®)

The DEI is a joint initiative of AAPD and the USBLN. Developed by the DEI Advisory Committee, a diverse group of business leaders, policy experts, and disability advocates, the DEI is a national, transparent, annual benchmarking tool that offers businesses an opportunity to receive an objective assessment of their overall disability inclusion policies and practices. It is an aspirational, educational, recognition tool that goes far beyond legal compliance, helping companies identify opportunities for continued improvement, while building their reputations as organizations that value diversity and inclusion. 

The DEI was first introduced in 2012 and piloted in 2013-2014 with 48 companies. The inaugural (2014-2015) DEI and the 2nd Annual (2016) DEI have since been successfully completed with 80+ companies.

About the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

AAPD is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As a national cross-disability rights organization AAPD advocates for full civil rights for the 50+ million Americans with disabilities. Learn more at www.aapd.com.

About the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®)

The USBLN is a national non-profit that helps business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain, and marketplace. The USBLN serves as the collective voice of nearly 50 Business Leadership Network affiliates across the United States, representing more than 5,000 businesses. Additionally, the USBLN Disability Supplier Diversity Program® (DSDP) is the nation's leading third party certification program for disability-owned businesses, including businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Learn more at www.usbln.org.