September 27, 2018
HR TODAY: What do Facebook, Walmart, CVS Health, and Voya Financial have in common? A strong disability inclusion program.

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Hiring individuals with disabilities delivers significant business benefits. “When people are able to bring their whole selves to work, you’re able to minimize what neuroscientists call the ‘social pain of exclusion,’ helping ensure that people are able to be their most productive, optimized self,” says Russell Shaffer, Walmart’s director of brand strategy, outreach, and benchmarking in the office of global culture, diversity, and inclusion.

The “social pain of exclusion” refers to the phenomenon that social rejection activates many of the same regions of the brain as physical pain. By helping individuals with disabilities feel included, the Vice President of Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer at CVS Health David Casey says that organizations can gain workers who are dependable, loyal, and more easily retained. According to Shaffer, more inclusive practices also create a safe environment that promotes strong connections between employees and their peers as well as the organization, leading to better performance, higher engagement, and greater innovation.

This increase in innovation can even result in a more thoughtful and accessible product. Katheryn King, outreach growth and compliance reporting manager at Facebook, says, “We believe that with a diverse workforce, we can better serve the people from all backgrounds who use our products. There are over one billion people with disabilities in the world. We want to make sure that we are building products that are accessible to them and serve their unique needs… Employees with disabilities not only have value in driving product accessibility but also in problem-solving and bringing diverse perspectives to innovation and creativity.”

 

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