“Disabilities in the Workplace” Working Mother Research Institute Unveils New Study


86% of Women and Men Respondents With A Visible Disability Disclose Their Issue at Work, Report Greater Happiness, Respect and Accommodation at Work Than Non-Visible

NEW YORK, October 20, 2016 — A new survey, released today, entitled Disabilities in the Workplace sheds important new information on how disability affects workplace experiences, employee engagement and overall career satisfaction. Conducted by the Working Mother Research Institute and sponsored by PwC, the survey of 1,368 women and men with disabilities, three-quarters of whom work full-time, reveals employees with a visible disability have much greater satisfaction at work across the board than employees with a non-visible disability, including in the hiring process, advancement opportunities, and accommodations at work.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The full survey report, done in partnership with the National Organization on Disability,  can be found on workingmother.com, also reveals that:

  • A vast majority (86%) of people with a visible disability disclose it to their employers, as opposed to only 67% with a non-visible disability—and 80% of men disclose their disability while only 68% of women say they do.
  • Employees with a visible disability are more likely to say they are excited to go to work each day (75% vs. 58%).  They are also more likely to believe their supervisor cares about their career (76 vs. 66%) and they are satisfied with how their career is progressing (78% vs. 66%).
  • The survey shows that employers can be less responsive to a non-visible disability. Indeed, one-third of respondents with a non-visible disability choose not to tell their employer. Of those who don’t, 43% say they keep it a secret because they want to hide their disability from their employer or don’t feel comfortable bringing it up.
  • Men with disabilities are more satisfied at work than women.. The male survey respondents say they feel more positive than women about their career prospects (69 vs. 60%), support for work/family demands from supervisors (74% vs. 63%), and how much their opinion counts at work (73% vs. 61%). One striking finding is that 79% of respondents with a disability report having a spouse at home who also has a disability, which the report says “may magnify a woman’s burden.”
  • The most common non-visible disabilities reported in the survey were: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cognitive impairments, back and spine impairments, and difficulties with hearing and vision.

Jennifer, Owens, editorial director, Working Mother Media, says, “The survey reveals a gender gap of women struggling harder with disability than men—women with a disability are less satisfied with their compensation, job security and career prospects than men with a disability. There is a tremendous opportunity for companies to tap into a huge pool of unemployed and underemployed talent, and ways for them to best serve workers who may need more flexibility and accommodation.”

Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability (NOD) says, “We find anecdotally that disclosing a disability at work can free up a huge amount of ‘emotional real estate.’…Being one’s full self at work, by disclosing a disability at a disability-friendly employer, can increase productivity by increasing trust with co-workers, bosses and lessen the stress from hiding it.” NOD served as Working Mother’s knowledge partner on the study.

Non-visible Disabilities: On the Job

  • Employees with a non-visible disability report less satisfaction with their company’s process of requesting accommodations than those with a visible one.
  • Thirty-one percent of women with disabilities who had an accommodation request rejected by an employer say they were told that their accommodation was “not necessary” vs. only 18% of men.
  • People with non-visible disabilities express less satisfaction and ease in the workplace with an overall satisfaction index that lags behind people with visible disabilities by 13 percentage points (measured across 13 indices).  They are less likely to be satisfied with how their careers are progressing or to believe job changes are possible to accommodate their disability.

Visible Disabilities: Getting Hired

  • Most respondents with a visible disability say that the hiring process went well, with 89% noting that an initial job recruiter discussed their disability respectfully with them. A majority (85%) of respondents with visible disabilities say, “my transition to the workplace went smoothly.”

Improvements in the Recruiting Process

  • Fifty-nine percent of respondents say “a better understanding of the company’s policy regarding the disabled and accommodations” would be important for improving their experience with the recruiting process vs. 44% of those with a non-visible disability.
  • Interestingly, 31% of those with a non-visible disability expressed that a manager who was knowledgeable about their disability would be helpful while only 17% with visible disabilities agree.

Subha V. Barry, VP, General Manager, Working Mother Media, notes, “Today 8 in 10 people with disabilities don’t have jobs. The most important issue for companies is to develop a best practices policy to foster an inclusive culture to help hire and accommodate people with disabilities.  The report found that those with a mentor have a much more positive workplace experience and higher satisfaction with their career progress than those without a mentor.”

About the Methodology

The Working Mother Research Institute developed a survey and fielded it nationally in March and April, 2016. A total of 1,882 employed people—51% men and 49% women—made up the sample. Of those,

1,368 had a disability, more than three-quarters work full-time and were hired at their current job with the disability they have now. The average age of the participants is 39 years old, 61% are married or partnered, and 55% have children under 18 at home.

About Working Mother Media

Working Mother Media (WMM), a division of Bonnier Corporation (bonnier.com), publishes Working Mother magazine and its companion website, workingmother.com. The Working Mother Research Institute (workingmother.com/wmri), the National Association for Female Executives (nafe.com) and Diversity Best Practices (diversitybestpractices.com) are also units within WMM. WMM’s mission is to serve as a champion of culture change. Working Mother magazine is the only national magazine for career-committed mothers. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

About PwC

Creating value for our clients, our people and the communities we live and work in is at the heart of PwC. We’re a member of the PwC network, which has firms in 157 countries with more than 223,000 people. We’re committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services. And what binds us together is one common purpose – to build trust in society and solve important problems.

About NOD

The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a private, non-profit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for the 79 percent of working age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to meet leading companies’ workforce needs. NOD has helped some of the world’s most recognized brands be more competitive in today’s global economy by building or enriching their disability inclusion programs. For more information about NOD and how its professional services, CEO Council of Corporate Leaders and Disability Employment Tracker™ can help your business, visit www.NOD.org.  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Employees Need to Feel Comfortable Disclosing Disabilities at Work | Blog by NOD President Carol Glazer

When workers tell their employers about a disability they free up valuable emotional real estate, says Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability.

The National Organization on Disability was proud to serve as a knowledge partner with the Working Mother Research Institute and PwC on this important new survey, Disabilities in the Workplace. For us at NOD, this kind of research is in our DNA. For years, NOD partnered with Harris Interactive to assess the gaps between Americans living with and without disabilities. That research was instrumental in shaping public policy decisions in Washington and beyond for many years, particularly as it related to access to education, transportation and other key factors for people with disabilities.

The results of this new Working Mother survey are no less remarkable and should be read by every CEO who cares about workplace productivity. The research tells us that employees with a visible disability have much greater satisfaction at work across the board than employees with a non-visible disability, including in the hiring process, advancement opportunities, and accommodations at work.

A vast majority (86%) of people with a visible disability disclose it to their employers, as opposed to only 67% with a non-visible disability. In our work with leading national employers, we find anecdotally that disclosing a disability at work can free up a huge amount of ‘emotional real estate.’ Being one’s full self at work, by disclosing a disability at a disability-friendly employer, can increase productivity by increasing trust with co-workers, bosses and lessen the stress from hiding it.

What is particularly troubling is that the survey shows that employers can be less responsive to a non-visible disability. Indeed, one-third of respondents with a non-visible disability choose not to tell their employer. Of those who don’t, 43% say they keep it a secret because they want to hide their disability from their employer or don’t feel comfortable bringing it up.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy within the U.S. Department of Labor has elevated the topic of workplace disclosure as part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to push federal contractors to hire more people with disabilities. Members of NOD’s Corporate Leadership Council – our corporate partners who distinguish themselves as leaders in diversity and employers of choice for people with disabilities, such as PwC – all know that creating an environment that is welcoming to disclosure is critical for maintaining a productive and dedicated workforce.

When we are hired by employers to deliver disability employment etiquette and awareness training, our trainers specifically discuss with managers how they can signal their organization’s commitment to individuals with disabilities as a valued segment of the workforce, thereby increasing the likelihood that existing employees feel comfortable disclosing their disabilities. That’s why we encourage employers who are looking to assess their capabilities in this area to try NOD’s Disability Employment Tracker. The Tracker is a free online assessment tool that benchmarks areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. With your assessment in hand, NOD then can work together with you on a disability-hiring plan.

Our success in the global economy depends, more than ever, on how well we inspire and put to use the talent and energies of every person in this country – every talent, every skill, every ability. That is why the National Organization on Disability was created: To see to it that no ability is wasted, and that everyone has a full and equal chance to play a part in our national progress.

Carol Glazer joined the National Organization on Disability (NOD) in July 2006 as the Executive Director of its National EmployAbility Partnership. She became NOD’s President in October, 2008. Under Carol’s leadership, NOD has developed important new relationships with the US Army, leading employers, national and local foundations, allied disability organizations and scores of new corporate donors to NOD’s programs. She put in place NOD’s signature employment demonstrations, Wounded Warrior Careers and Bridges to Business and now oversees NOD’s professional services to companies to help them become more disability inclusive.

Carol is a speaker and subject matter expert on issues regarding the employment of people with disabilities and has addressed audiences at national conferences, corporate forums and higher education institutions, among others.

Carol holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and in 2012, was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Allegheny College for her work on behalf of individuals with disabilities. She has two children, one of whom was born with hydrocephalus and has physical and intellectual disabilities.

Read the blog on Working Mother

Disability Business Roundtable | NOD’s Chairman and Corporate Partners Featured in USDOL Blog

Blog by Patricia A. Shiu, the director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Inclusive, diverse workplaces are good for business. But how can businesses find qualified workers of diverse backgrounds and abilities? How does creating a culture of inclusion affect this and other diversity issues in the modern workplace?  How can government and business work together to achieve common goals of equal employment opportunity, increased productivity and success?

These were some of the issues the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs raised when it hosted a disability business roundtable this October, “Best Practices and Strategies for Success.” The first of its kind for OFCCP, the event attracted 60 individuals from the federal contractor community, such as Northrop Grumman, 3M, CVS, Sprint, Raytheon and Sodexo, as well as representatives from colleges, universities and disability organizations. As contractors heard and learned from others in the business community, the discussions were open and frank.

OFCCP strengthened its regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in September 2013, by, among other things, creating a 7 percent aspirational goal for contractors, and focusing on data collection and data-based decision making. Since that time OFCCP has engaged in a continuing dialogue with contractors. We have listened and learned about the challenges they face in meeting that aspirational goal.

First, contractors state that they experience difficulty finding individuals with disabilities who have the skills and training necessary to fill existing job vacancies. Second, contractors have reported that they find that individuals with disabilities seldom self-identify unless reasonable accommodation is needed. Despite this, many contractors and other employers shared innovative and time-tested approaches that they have used to address these important issues.

The roundtable provided a forum for businesses to share best practices, effective strategies, experiences and lessons learned. It tapped into the knowledge and experience of corporate leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to opening the doors of opportunity and fostering a welcoming workplace.

The half-day event featured two panels of corporate leaders from different sectors, who shared their companies’ successes and promising approaches for fostering voluntary self-identification, and for increasing the hiring and retention of individuals with disabilities.

  • Prudential, PNC and Merck increased self-identification rates by developing comprehensive self-identification strategies, and creating an inclusive culture in every line of business.
  • First Bank of Omaha increased its employee response rate for its self-identification campaign to nearly 70 percent through high employee engagement strategies.
  • Boston Scientific and General Motors focused on creating strategic partnerships with colleges and universities to identify students with disabilities in STEM programs.
  • Giant Eagle and Toys R Us used job coaches and other means to recruit, hire, train, promote and retain more workers with disabilities.

An executive from United Technologies Corp. also shared why recruiting individuals with disabilities is good for business, and described the company’s challenges and successes in its efforts to recruit and retain individuals with disabilities.

The roundtable is part of our larger strategy to expand direct engagement with federal contractors to help them successfully implement Section 503 and other agency regulations. It confirmed that many employers are interested in doing more to increase the employment of individuals with disabilities, and that business and government can work together to make this happen.

It also affirmed a recent statement by Gov. Tom Ridge, chair of the National Organization for Disability, when describing the impact of the Section 503 regulations: “[W]e are already beginning to see the signs of progress. Slow and incremental for sure, but progress nonetheless.”

We look forward to building on that progress in the future. For more information about the agency and its outreach efforts, visit dol.gov/ofccp.

Read the blog on the USDOL website.

National Focus On Disability Reminds Us Of The Urgency Of Our Work | Blog by Carol Glazer

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post Business Blog where NOD President Carol Glazer regularly contributes to the ongoing discussion about disability in America and how we can continue closing the gap for people with disabilities in the workforce.

Over a remarkable ten-day stretch, the issue of employment for Americans with disabilities suddenly found itself in the front pages of national papers and a topic of discussion among our nation’s most influential philanthropies and those who seek their funding. For those of us who spend our lives trying to find solutions to why millions of Americans with disabilities can’t find jobs, these two events have rattled our walls in a very positive way.

It started in mid-September with a remarkable mea culpa; a surprising admission from the highly respected leader of the Ford Foundation. President Darren Walker used the occasion of his annual letter to his constituents to admit that a new effort by his foundation, the nation’s second-largest philanthropy, to disrupt inequality had neglected people with disabilities. Walker didn’t just own the mistake, rather he pledged to raise the issue on a national stage so that disability is a consideration in all future grant-making decisions by his organization – and hopefully many others. It was a game-changing pledge.

Then just days later, as reverberations from Walker’s letter were subsiding, Hillary Clinton thrust the issue right back onto center stage by announcing her new vision of more job opportunities for people with disabilities. Up to this point, the issue had largely been absent from the presidential campaign since the conventions. That ended suddenly with Secretary Clinton’s more policy-oriented discussion of an “inclusive economy” with expanded job opportunities for what she called “a group of Americans who are, too often, invisible, overlooked and undervalued – who have so much to offer, but are given far too few chances to prove it.”

While Walker’s admission and Clinton’s policy proposal unexpectedly ignited much-needed focus on this vexing national problem, the reality is we as a nation have a pretty good handle on how to get more people with disabilities into the workforce. Now we need more action to go along with the talk.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that more than 50 million jobs will need to be filled between 2012 and 2022, accounting for both new job creation and replacing retiring workers. The majority of these new job openings will be long-term, career-track positions that require at least some postsecondary education.

The race for highly educated professional talent is on, and American businesses are increasingly looking to the untapped potential of people with disabilities to stay competitive and get ahead. The number of people with disabilities attending college has climbed from 29 percent to 44 percent in the last decade, and two million people with disabilities are enrolled today.

However, there is a disconnect between employers looking for talent on the one hand, and college-educated people with disabilities who could supply it on the other. Only 40 percent of people with disabilities with college educations are currently employed.

That is why the National Organization on Disability is partnering with Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD) and Work Without Limits on an exciting new project in Boston set to launch this fall. COSD is a widely respected organization that has worked for 17 years to connect college students with disabilities and employers. Work Without Limits is a consortium of more than 30 leading Boston employers, committed to disability workforce inclusion. The rich ecosystem of higher education institutions in Boston and employers who are motived to hire talented young people with disabilities as they transition from college to careers provides the ideal setting.

Starting with employer’s talent needs, NOD together with COSD will develop, test and refine a campus employment pipeline for college students with disabilities in the Boston area. Results will be tracked – including employment outcomes for students, as well as for participating campuses and employers – and we will report out for broader adoption nationally.

Years of research by our organization and others reveals how companies can attract, recruit and develop professional talent with disabilities. According to recent polling data, the most important criterion jobseekers with disabilities consider when selecting a place to work is the disability/diversity friendliness of the employer. A welcoming and responsive attitude toward disability outranked compensation – most important to jobseekers without disabilities – by ten percentage points, and also exceeded flexibility, benefits, advancement for career opportunities, and other selection factors.

My organization works closely with large employers to teach their leadership ways to enhance a company’s organizational culture and hiring practices to improve the work environment for people with disabilities – and the company’s bottom line.

The buzz created over the last several weeks certainly was helpful, but soon will dissipate. Our resolve to close this unacceptable employment gap must not do the same.