Disability Inclusion in the Workplace

According to the CDC, 1 and 4 adults in the U.S. suffer from a disability that impacts major life activities. People living with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed as people without disabilities. Some prospective employers are concerned about the cost of accommodations, others with the stigma of visible disabilities. This is patently discriminatory, as well as untrue: almost 60% of accommodations are free to the employer, and the rest are often relatively low-cost – about $500 per employee with a disability. These accommodations can also lead to direct and indirect benefits to the company in employee retention, productivity, training costs, as well as morale and customer interactions.

In addition to the moral imperative, the economic opportunity is huge: a 2018 Accenture report found companies embracing disability inclusion gain access to a tremendous new talent pool, estimated at more than 10 million people in the US alone. Accenture estimates that US GDP could grow by $25 billion if just 1% more of people with disabilities joined the workforce. Additionally, companies embracing disability inclusion were found to perform better financially, with higher revenue, net income, and economic profit margins over a four-year period.

Of course, people with disabilities are consumers, too. The American Institute for Research classified people with disabilities as the third-largest market segment in the US, after Hispanics and African-Americans, and this 2018 report also found discretionary income for working age persons with disabilities to be $21 billion.