Access the PDF Version of the 2022 Disability Equality Index report

Executive Summary

After near-constant disruption from the global pandemic, uncertain economic conditions, and ongoing labor shortages, today’s corporations have demonstrated resilience and creativity as they strive to make their workplaces better for everyone.

As the post-pandemic reality sets in, the battle for talent remains top of mind for many business leaders. Job openings remain at record highs, with over 11.4 million vacancies in the U.S. workforce alone. Skilled industries like healthcare and technology face worker shortages globally.

To adapt to today’s reality and stay competitive, companies need to think creatively about hiring, developing, and cultivating talent. They need to invest in their pipeline, minimize biases, be open-minded about who is qualified, and be more attentive to what a candidate is looking for in their next position.

Now more than ever, people want to work where their contributions are valued, where diversity of thought is celebrated, and where they can be part of an inclusive culture characterized by a sense of belonging. Today, job seekers are more attuned to a company’s values and commitment to social purpose. They care about how companies embrace diversity and empathize with the human experience.

Disability Inclusion as an ESG Tool

Disability inclusion in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria must be a priority for investors and companies. ESG criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments.

As part of ESG, investors and executives are increasingly demanding information on disability inclusion efforts to make informed decisions. Disability inclusion in ESG is key to not only closing the inequality gap faced in the workplace by individuals with disabilities, but also increasing the long-term value of companies and returns to shareholders.1

Disability:IN and AAPD worked with a group of investors with over $2.8 trillion in assets under management to sign the Joint Investor Statement, which calls on the companies they invest in to take steps to create an inclusive workplace for people with disabilities.2

To date, over 115 CEOs have signed Disability:IN’s CEO Letter on Disability Inclusion, urging their fellow Fortune 1000 executives to join them in participating in the DEI.3

Disability inclusion is integral to these efforts—and to the future of work.

  • Hiring talent with disabilities can help stabilize a workforce in flux. People with disabilities are an underemployed global population representing more than one billion, or 15%, of all people.4
  • People with disabilities bring unique work skills and perspectives that foster innovation, which is known to improve financial performance.5
  • People with disabilities bring diversity of thought and ideas that benefit a company’s customers and stakeholders.
  • People with disabilities share lived experiences that contribute deeply to an inclusive work culture, which helps drive engagement and can lead to higher corporate performance metrics.
  • People with disabilities who self-report help influence workforce diversity data, corporate diversity goals, and ESG criteria.

Companies should weave disability inclusion into everything they do to prepare for the future of work. Now is the time to go beyond elemental practices and engage in progressive practices that will allow businesses to create sustainable growth and impact.

The Disability Equality Index (DEI) can help initiate companies into the disability inclusive landscape, incorporate practices that facilitate inclusive workplaces, and set goals driven by inclusive values. Data from the DEI can help a company tap into an underutilized and undercapitalized pool of workers with disabilities and progress from accommodation, to inclusion, to genuine belonging.

Disability inclusion is also the next chapter of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing and corporate social responsibility. An Accenture report, “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage”3, used data from the DEI to show that companies that champion disability inclusion perform better, have higher profitability, and stronger total shareholder returns.

Shareholders and investors are asking for corporate disability metrics so they have the information they need to decide what indicators matter for long-term value. As a result, many companies have used their DEI findings to develop a strategic plan to capitalize on ESG-driven opportunities that address disability inclusion and equity moving forward.