Though success levels and prioritization may vary, nobody would ever argue that executing an effective corporate disability inclusion strategy isn’t a desirable outcome for most serious-minded medium to large-scale enterprises. Unfortunately, attaining this goal is often easier said than done due to multiple underlying complexities ranging from a lack of disability confidence amongst upper management to low levels of disclosure by employees.

Featuring people with disabilities in corporate advertising and marketing materials, be that on television or via social media campaigns, is a viable means of evidencing an open and welcoming culture to job candidates and employees and, just as importantly for the bottom line – paying customers too.

In terms of corporate DE&I efforts, featuring people with disabilities, who, rather than being some niche segment, comprise almost a quarter of the population anyway, should represent low-hanging fruit and a quick win for comms teams. So, why doesn’t this happen to anywhere near the level it should?

The underlying figures that are available to date on this unique intersection of corporate communication and DE&I make for pretty stark reading.

According to data analytics and audience measurement experts Nielsen, who looked at 450,000 primetime TV and cabled ads in February 2021, a staggeringly low 1% involved representation of disability-related themes, visuals, or topics.

Furthermore, when disability was prevalent in ads – these tended to skew towards cliched market segments and depictions such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare and assistive devices. This led the report’s authors to note, “Most of the time, disability is absent from advertising, except when it’s focused on products that treat disabilities. Rarely do ads show disabled people in everyday life, such as working, parenting, household chores or enjoying activities…. While treatment and managing care are important aspects of living with a disability, it’s important that life with a disability is seen as more than just prescriptions.”

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