Last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission placed its stamp of approval on a Nasdaq initiative that largely sidelines people with disabilities when it comes to boardroom diversity reporting.
Arriving less than 2 weeks after the U.S. celebrated the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the development can be viewed as something of a kick in the teeth to campaigners, employees and jobseekers advocating for greater workplace disability inclusion.
Under proposed rule Release No. 34-90574, Nasdaq-listed companies will be compelled to report on the composition of their boards of directors.
This entails a requirement that organizations have two diverse directors, including one identifying as female and another as an underrepresented minority, or LGBTQ+, or they must explain why they do not.
When it comes to this second category of forming part of an “underrepresented minority,” disability will not be considered as a qualifying criterion for this group.
The announcement reaffirms the idea that, despite accounting for 20% of the world’s population, in 2021, disability continues to be viewed as workplace D&I’s poor relation.
Prior to last week’s announcement, not only did disability organizations vigorously campaign and lobby Nasdaq and the SEC to include disability within the definition, they also received strong public support from the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Black Chamber and Women Impacting Public Policy, in addition to others.
In a press release, Disability:IN, a global player in driving disability inclusion and equality in business stated that it was “deeply disappointed” by the SEC’s stance.