New Analysis of U.S. Employers Reveals Five Common Attributes of Companies that Excel in Welcoming People with Disabilities into Workforce

Jul 24, 2017


NEW YORK (July 24) – As the nation prepares to recognize the anniversary of the groundbreaking Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the National Organization on Disability (NOD) today released results of the 2017 Disability Employment Tracker™ which provides rarely seen insights into the employment practices of U.S. employers. The Tracker, which measured practices and outcomes of more than 175 companies that together employ 2.4 million American workers, reveals that companies with a higher than average representation of people with disabilities (4% or greater) share five key inclusion practices in common. Those employers that have struggled to hire people with disabilities and are missing out on a huge and talented labor pool, can implement these best practices for better results.

“For American business, the quest for talent – the most gifted, the most driven, the most committed – has become the defining challenge of the 21st century,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “Yet 27 years removed from the passage of the ADA barely one-fifth of people with disabilities have found a job. Something is wrong. A critical connection is being missed – at enormous cost in individual lives, in productivity and in the corporate bottom line. But this new survey data provides tangible actions; as it reveals the practices common to companies that have successfully tapped into this rich talent pool—and these progressive businesses are benefitting greatly as a result.”

Glazer said hiring people with disabilities can have unique benefits for employers. People with disabilities spend their lives ignoring discouragement, persisting through setbacks, solving problems, and finding creative routes around obstacles. They are a rich supply of talent, ready to be tapped, at a time when talent is at a premium.

The successful practices revealed by NOD’s 2017 Disability Employment Tracker include:
Companies with a higher than average representation of people with disabilities (> 4%) share these practices. Strategy & Metrics: Senior leaders discuss/publicly promote overall diversity; Plan for improving disability inclusion practices; Diversity champion accountable to drive disability strategy. Culture & Climate: Employee/business resource groups or affinity groups; Disability-specific employee/business resource group with annual budget. Talent Sourcing: Recruiters know how to find accommodation process. People Practices: Post-offer and pre-employment, new hires asked if accommodation needed. Workplace & Technology: Universal design principles applied in new facility buildouts.

  1. Strategy & Metrics. Senior leaders discuss and publicly promote overall diversity. Further, they have a plan of action for improving disability inclusion practices that is driven by a disability champion who is accountable to advance this strategy.
  2. Climate & Culture. Priority is given to creating employee/business resource or affinity groups that are specific to disability. Most critically, those groups have annual budgets that allow them to take visible and impactful action.
  3. Recruiter Training. Recruiters, who are on the front line with job candidates, are trained in, and know how to find and use the company’s accommodation process. This helps ensure candidates gain access to the supports needed to be a successful candidate and land the job.
  4. People Practices. HR teams are trained to proactively ask new hires if they need an accommodation in the post-offer and pre-employment stages. This improves the employee experience and ensures that there are no gaps in providing support to employees with disabilities from day one.
  5. Workplace & Technology. As new facilities are built, universal design principles – a set of design guidelines that ensure the physical workplace works well for people of every ability – are routinely applied.

“The employers who do hire from this pool consistently rank employees with disabilities among their best, most dedicated workers, with some of the lowest rates of turnover,” added Glazer. “Furthermore, research has shown that the vast majority of consumers prefer to buy from companies who hire people with disabilities, and Americans with disabilities and their friends and families constitute a huge and growing consumer segment with over $3.9 trillion in disposable income.”


Haven’t taken the Tracker yet? Sign up today. Access extensive benchmarking and leading practices customized to your business goals with the Disability Inclusion Accelerator.

The Disability Employment Tracker™ was developed in partnership with The National Business and Disability Council at The Viscardi Center and Mercer-Sirota.

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