Disability inclusion: Is your board on board?

The Special Intelligence Unit 9900 of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is dedicated to everything related to geography, including mapping, interpretation of aerial and satellite photographs, and space research. Within this unit is another smaller unit of highly skilled soldiers who can detect even the smallest details, which are generally undetectable to most people.

All of these soldiers have one thing in common; they are on the autism spectrum. Their job is to take visual materials from satellite images and sensors in the air. With the help of officers and decoding tools, they analyze the images and find specific objects within the images that are necessary to bring the best data to the missions they plan. The IDF has also found that soldiers with autism can concentrate for longer periods of time than their neurotypical counterparts.

This story speaks to me personally. My son Trevor was diagnosed with autism at the age of five. The only thing I knew about autism at the time was Dustin Hoffman’s. Rain man character. Raising a child on the spectrum drastically changed my point of view on disability inclusion, seeing strengths through challenges and cultivating those strengths while adjusting to challenges. Today he is a grown man, living alone, working, paying his bills, saving money and building relationships. Your strengths outweigh your challenges.

The very recognition of your strengths and challenges can lead to success in monitoring how an organization thrives, but how do you begin to ensure the inclusion of the force of people with disabilities in the workplace at scale with the organization level? ? It has to start at the board and C-suite level.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines a disability as “any condition of the body or mind (disability) that makes it difficult for the person with the condition to perform certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them ( participation restrictions) “. A disability can:

  • Being present at birth (i.e. Down syndrome)
  • It becomes evident during childhood (i.e. autism)
  • Be related to an injury (i.e. spinal cord injury)
  • Being associated with a long-lasting condition (i.e. diabetes), which can cause disability (i.e. loss of vision).

In 2018, Accenture published a prominent research report titled Reaching equality: the advantage of the inclusion of people with disabilities. Some of the statistics in the report are revealing:

  • 29 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities participate in the workforce compared to 75 percent of Americans without a disability
  • There are 15.1 million working-age Americans living with a disability
  • If companies embraced disability inclusion, they would gain access to a new talent pool of 10.7 million people.

The Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a joint project of the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disabilities – IN (formerly known as the US Business Leadership Network). DEI’s primary goal is to provide a benchmarking tool to help companies evaluate disability inclusion policies and practices in six key areas:

  1. Culture and leadership
  2. Access to the entire company
  3. Employment practices
  4. Community involvement
  5. Supplier Diversity
  6. Operations outside the US

Organizations complete a survey (DEI estimates 30-40 hours to complete), submit it to DEI, and receive an objective score on their disability inclusion practices and opportunities for improvement. DEI places respondents 80 percent or higher on its website, with companies such as Accenture, Microsoft Corp., AT&T, The Walt Disney Co., Capital One Financial Corp., and Boeing Co. achieving a 100 percent score. . DEI has an advisory committee comprised of corporate and non-profit executives and advocates who advise on benchmarking issues and questions.

While it is a commitment to complete the survey, it gives the organization an honest and introspective perspective on its culture, policies and practices on disability inclusion and is valuable in helping to identify areas in which an organization needs to improve.

This is not nonsense. The Accenture report points to several tangible results from those organizations that embraced a culture of disability inclusion.

  • Companies that were DEI champions for disability (score 80% or higher) were twice as likely to achieve a higher total return to shareholders than peer companies.
  • Companies that were not disability champions but had improved their DEI scores over time were four times more likely to have higher total return to shareholders than peer companies.
  • Staff turnover is up to 30 percent lower when a well-managed community outreach program for people with disabilities is implemented.

As a board, make it a priority to work with your senior leadership team to understand your company’s disability inclusion position and ensure disability inclusion is mainstreamed into the culture, not just a side project. Here are three things you can do to get started:

  • Use the DEI Benchmarking Survey to assess your culture as it is. Whether or not you submit your responses to DEI to qualify, at a minimum, download and complete the survey to understand your company’s strengths and weaknesses in disability inclusion. You will at least understand where your company should focus on the disability inclusion journey.
  • Appoint a senior disability inclusion leader. Identify and train a member of your senior leadership team to be an internal and external voice on disability inclusion in your organization. The executive must be known as a person with a disability or be a passionate supporter of people with disabilities. As with any other inclusion leader, passion is the key. Don’t give an executive the title of champion if you’re not passionate about it.
  • Include a disability inclusion advocate in your directory. Whether you are a person with a disability or a passionate supporter, make sure your board has someone who brings the necessary expertise in the matter along with the willingness to be a courageous advocate for disability inclusion in the boardroom.

Disability inclusion is not just a social responsibility buzzword meant to enhance reputation. You can get tangible business value. As a board, your responsibility is to ensure that your organization promotes a culture in which business benefits can be realized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *