On Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD), an investor group representing more than $2.8 trillion in combined assets and 22 signatories, is calling on companies they invest in to be inclusive to people with disabilities through a Joint Investor Statement on Disability Inclusion. The statement encourages companies to create inclusive workplaces built for sustainable, long-term performance. The group is led by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read, and includes recent signatories: Boston Common Asset Management Group, Ethical Partners Fund Management, Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Joe Torsella, and Pension Fund PWRI based in The Netherlands.
The expanding investor group states companies must do more to include people with disabilities in the workforce. “We want our portfolio companies to create sustainable, long-term value; this requires a workforce with a wide range of viewpoints, skills, abilities, and experiences. We believe, and research has demonstrated, that embracing equality, diversity, and inclusiveness is increasingly critical to the long-term success of corporations in the global marketplace.”
The coalition formed to encourage portfolio companies to capitalize on the opportunities of disability inclusion. According to “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage,” a report published in 2018 by Accenture, Disability:IN, and AAPD, when companies adopt best practices for hiring people with disabilities, they outperform their peers among numerous financial metrics, including 28 percent higher revenue, double the net income, and 30 percent higher economic profit margins. Additionally, including people with disabilities increases innovation, improves productivity, and fosters a better work environment.
The statement includes various actions for companies to begin the disability inclusion journey. To start, companies should analyze their disability inclusion policies through a third-party benchmarking tool such as the Disability Equality Index (DEI). Tools like the DEI can provide companies a comprehensive assessment of their disability inclusion practices and identify opportunities to gain a competitive advantage by improving those practices.
In addition, the statement encourages companies adopt the following:
- Ensure their Diversity & Inclusion statement specifically mentions people with disabilities and post the statement online.
- Establish a public, company-wide hiring goal for people with disabilities and measure progress on achieving that goal.
- Release a public statement from a senior executive (within first two layers of CEO), supporting a disability-focused employee resource group.
- Ensure the company’s disability accommodation policy is available to all employees and can be accessed in more than one way.
- Develop a supplier diversity program to include Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (DOBE®), Service-Disabled Veteran Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (SDV-DOBE™), and Veteran Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (V-DOBE™) and
- Audit the compliance of both internal and external websites under World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (W3C WCAG2.1).
In addition to signing the joint statement, New York State Comptroller DiNapoli and Connecticut State Treasurer Wooden have mailed letters directly to their portfolio companies regarding this issue.
Massachusetts PRIM and New York State Common Retirement Fund have also updated their proxy voting guidelines to reflect this priority.
The full signatory list, including 22 investors, is below. The Joint Investor Statement on Disability Inclusion is open to additional signatories throughout 2020. Inquiries can be sent to [email protected].
- Bank of America
- Rodney O. Martin, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Voya Financial, Inc.
- Dieter Waizenegger, Executive Director, CtW Investment Group
- Christopher J. Ailman, FSA, Chief Investment Officer, California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)
- Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller
- Scott M. Stringer, New York City Comptroller
- Tobias Read, Oregon State Treasurer
- Shawn T. Wooden, Connecticut State Treasurer
- Michael W. Frerichs, Illinois State Treasurer
- Deborah B. Goldberg, Massachusetts State Treasurer
- Joseph M. Torsella, Pennsylvania State Treasurer
- Thomas “Thom” Williams, Executive Director, Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii
- Richard Trumka, President, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
- Xander den Uyl, Vicechair, Pension Fund PWRI, The Netherlands
- Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island State Treasurer
- Sheila Morgan-Johnson, Executive Director, District of Columbia Retirement Board
- Clifton S. Robbins, Chief Executive Officer, Blue Harbour Group, L.P.
- Beth Pearce, Vermont State Treasurer
- Matthew W. Patsky, Chief Executive Officer, Trillium Asset Management LLC
- Boston Common Asset Management Group
- Carole Liable, Chief Executive Officer, Domini Impact Investments LLC
- Matt Nacard, Chief Executive Officer, Ethical Partners Fund Management