NEW EMPLOYER SURVEY PORTENDS DIFFICULT ROAD AHEAD FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES WHO LOST THEIR JOBS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
National Organization on Disability Releases Results of 2020 Disability Employment Tracker
NEW YORK (July 16, 2020) – Nearly one million Americans with disabilities have lost their jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the New Hampshire University Institute on Disability. Results of NOD’s 2020 Disability Employment Tracker – a survey of 200 businesses and organizations that collectively employ 8.7 million people in the U.S. – found that their road back to employment may be particularly difficult, with too many companies still lacking a sincere commitment to creating disability-inclusive cultures.
The 2020 Tracker found many employers still do not have adequate accommodations processes in place and fewer HR and hiring managers are receiving needed disability training to effectively on-board new employees. And internship and mentoring programs for people with disabilities have remained mostly flat since the Tracker started monitoring such activities seven years ago.
Since the pandemic began in March, 1 in 5 workers with disabilities lost their employment, compared with 1 in 7 in the general population according to the U.S. Labor Bureau of Statistics.
“People with disabilities have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and its economic consequences,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “Sadly, we know there will be a rolling back of the gains we have seen since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law 30 years ago this month, particularly as it deals with employment. Corporate America must do more to answer the challenge made by President George H.W. Bush when he signed the ADA into law, when he said employers hold the key to unlocking the full potential of the ADA. This latest research confirms that lock is still securely bolted shut.”
The most important disability inclusion driver—getting and keeping talent—has remained flat. In 2020, companies reported a disability rate of 4.09% among their workforce, rising just slightly from 4.03% in 2019 and 3.9% in 2018. Just 6.3% of new hires reported a disability in 2020, a slight increase to the 5.7% reported in 2019.
Year-over-year, the Tracker does show an uptick in companies whose senior leaders discuss and publicly promote disability initiatives, which reach 80% in 2020, as compared to 76% in 2019. Federal contractors are leading the way in adopting disability employment best practices, with 85% tracking disability by job group, compared to a non-contractor rate of 73%.
“Progress against the ultimate measure — the number of employees working with disabilities comfortable with self-identification — has remained flat,” said Felicia Nurmsen, Managing Director of Employer Services at NOD. “As we look forward another 30 years, employers will be vital to fulfilling the ADA’s promise of equal opportunity for Americans with disabilities by building a truly inclusive workplace.”
The Tracker results did find that NOD’s Corporate Leadership Council Members continue to perform higher than other companies completing the Tracker. The best performing companies are adopting key practices to yield higher disability rates, including having a plan for improving disability inclusion practice; ensuring recruiters, managers and supervisors are well-trained in the accommodations process; and providing easy access to accommodations at the post-offer/pre-employment stage and throughout the employees’ tenure.