The Americans with Disabilities Act is a landmark piece of legislation that prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. However, nearly 28 years since its passage, people with disabilities still face barriers to full and equal workforce participation.
As of January 2018, the labor force participation rate for people with disabilities is 20.4 percent versus 67.8 percent for people without disabilities, according to the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Many employers have not recognized contributions people with disabilities could make in the workplace if provided the proper accommodations, while others hold pre-conceived notions on what people with disabilities can or cannot do in the workplace.
People with disabilities deserve equal opportunities in the workplace. Employers need guidance on how to improve their disability inclusion efforts as well as recognition for doing so.
The Disability Equality Index (DEI), launched in 2013, is a unique, bench-marking tool that allows companies to measure their progress towards achieving equality for workers with disabilities. Across nine indices, the DEI recognizes exemplary internal and external facing policies, strategies and initiatives that have produced measurable results in the area of disability inclusion in the workplace, marketplace and supply chain. Now, consumers can identify businesses that earn top marks for their efforts toward inclusion and accessibility.
In 2017, 68 of the participating 110 companies scored 100/100 points on the DEI, a 62 percent increase in top-scoring companies since the 2016 DEI. Additionally, more than 95 percent of the companies in the DEI now have recruitment efforts geared toward hiring individuals with disabilities.
Measuring the future
In hand with these successes, the DEI also revealed some issues of concern. For example, only 29 percent of companies currently have retention and advancement policies that specifically mention disability inclusion, and only 39 percent inform job applicants that they are able to request accommodations for an interview. Even so, these findings clearly demonstrate the need and purpose of the DEI — participating companies can easily identify what they’re doing well and what they need to improve.
The 2018 DEI is already underway, with a 40 percent increase in the number of participating companies compared to 2017. Results are set to be released this summer.