Washington, D.C. (August 23, 2017) – US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) are proud to release the 2017 Disability Equality Index (DEI) – the third year measured by the Index. 110 companies participated in the 2017 DEI, with results indicating where companies are excelling in their commitment to inclusive environmental, social, and governance policies. DEI results also indicate areas in which companies must improve and close the policy and practice gaps for disability inclusion. This year a record 68 employers have earned the top rating of 100 – signaling to corporate America that becoming inclusive to people with disabilities drives positive results across the business.
Since the commencement of the DEI, corporate America has significantly advanced efforts to be inclusive of people with disabilities. In fact, the DEI report shows external employee recruitment has become even more inclusive with 95% of all 2017 DEI companies report having recruitment efforts in place that are specifically geared toward hiring individuals with disabilities; an 11 percentage point increase since 2014.
Companies are also becoming more inclusive internally to employees with disabilities. 88% of reporting companies have a specific disability-focused employee resource group or affinity organization; an 18 percentage point increase since 2015. In addition, 86% of DEI companies reported a senior executive proactively acts as a champion or sponsor of these resource/affinity groups; a 17 percentage point increase since 2015. Both points signal corporate culture is gradually shifting to be more inclusive; from various directions of the company.
Conversely, the DEI results show where corporate America still lags in the journey towards disability inclusion. For example, although many participating companies recognize USBLN certified disability-owned business enterprises, only 51% of reporting companies report having disability included in their supplier diversity programs – up slightly from 49% in 2016.
Another opportunity for improvement is in interview accommodations. Only 39% of DEI companies communicate the option to request an accommodation(s) for the interview. Another barrier towards inclusivity is accessibility. Despite the recent momentum gained with web accessibility efforts (including the #a11y initiatives), just over half of the DEI companies audit their external websites for accessibility. This number drops to 26% when it comes to their internal websites.
“We applaud those companies that are advancing their disability inclusion efforts across the business,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of USBLN. “Taking the DEI is an important step within the journey, backed with concrete data and insight. The release of this report, and the 68 leading companies, challenges other companies to fill in those critical gaps, and realize the possible results by being inclusive to people with disabilities, throughout the workforce, marketplace and supply-chain.”
"AAPD proudly recognizes this year's top DEI scorers," said Helena Berger, President and CEO of AAPD. On the heels of the 27th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we should celebrate our achievements but also reflect on the fact that employment outcomes for Americans with disabilities have remained unchanged. Employment is a pathway to the American Dream, and the DEI is an effective, non-punitive tool that builds partnerships between the disability and business communities to ultimately expand employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and embrace the talents and skills we bring to the workplace. Working together, we can help ensure no one is left behind or unable to pursue their dream because of a disability."
The recognition of being a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” is reserved for those companies that have scored 80 or above on the DEI. The full company list can be accessed here: http://www.usbln.org/what-we-do/disability-equality-index/2017-DEI-top-companies
The companies participating in the 2017 DEI represent 21 different sectors of the American economy, and have a total U.S. workforce of approximately 7.2 million workers—or approximately 5% of all American workers. In addition to their impact on the American workforce, these companies have a substantial financial impact on the American economy, with all publicly held corporations totaling representing nearly $6 trillion in market value.
The 2017 DEI Report dives deeper into the insights of the 2017 DEI results, and serves as a tool for the business community to recognize areas where they can continue to improve their support for their employees with disabilities and learn best practices and policies from other Fortune 1000-scope businesses. The 2017 DEI Report is public and can be accessed here: http://www.usbln.org/what-we-do/disability-equality-index/2017-DEI-report
Companies that are interested in taking the 2018 DEI can sign up for the mailing list to be notified of the open registration period: http://bit.ly/2wjRiRM
About the DEI
The Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a unique, joint project of US Business Leadership Council and The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). It serves as the nation’s most trusted annual benchmarking tool allowing America’s leading corporations to self-report their disability policies and practices. This evolving survey then 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.
About the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
The American Association of People with Disabilities (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 56+ million Americans with disabilities.
About the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®)
USBLN (US Business Leadership Network) unites business around disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace. USBLN has more than 130 corporate partners spanning the technology, healthcare, financial, transportation, entertainment, and retail industries. USBLN serves as a collective voice of nearly 50 Business Leadership Network Affiliates across the United States, representing over 5,000 businesses. USBLN has various nationally recognized tools and programs, such as the Disability Equality Index and the leading disability-owned business enterprise (DOBE) certification program, to bridge inclusive companies with people and organizations within the disability community.