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Disability Empowerment

America’s CEOs Call for Disability Inclusion

Jill Houghton

President and CEO, Disability:IN

Registering for the index will be a major step forward in advancing inclusion for the estimated 1 in 4 Americans with disabilities — a minority group that anyone can join at any time.

To date, 16 CEOs have signed the “CEO Letter on Disability Inclusion,” an open letter encouraging other Fortune 1000 CEOs to register for the DEI.

The DEI is administered by two nonprofit organizations — the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN — and provides an unbiased and confidential way to benchmark disability inclusion in the workplace. 

In its sixth official year, the DEI continues to see an increase in participation, with the number of top-scoring companies more than quadrupling to 205 in 2020, compared to 43 in 2015. In total, the participating companies account for a total workforce of more than 11 million people. 

The bottom line

The call for disability inclusion in business has accelerated with the 2018 report from Accenture “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage,” produced in partnership with AAPD and Disability:IN. The report found that companies that offered inclusive working environments for employees with disabilities achieved an average of 28 percent higher revenue, 30 percent higher profit margins, and two times higher income than industry peers.

Disability inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do — it also makes business sense. Given the data from Accenture, investors and asset managers are also joining in.


Similar to the CEO Letter on Disability Inclusion, a coalition of 22 investors are leveraging their influence to call on companies to advance inclusion through a “Joint Investor Statement on Disability Inclusion.” The signatories represent over $2.8 trillion in assets, and are led in part by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the third largest pension fund in the nation.

“People with disabilities present business and industry with unique opportunities in labor force diversity, corporate culture, and as a large consumer market eager to know which businesses authentically support their goals and dreams,” said Ted Kennedy, Jr., disability rights lawyer and AAPD board chair. “Leading companies are accelerating disability inclusion as the next frontier of corporate social responsibility and mission-driven investing.”

Looking ahead

As we envision what the next 30 years will look like for disability inclusion, one thing is clear: We all have a role to play. While we celebrate the CEOs, investors and companies working to  truly build an inclusive international economy, we all must do our part.

Disability:IN’s recently launched campaign “Are You IN?” invites people all around the world to add their name to a list — taking one step forward in a series of actions to advance inclusion. 

The campaign website brings together the 16 CEOs, 22 investors, growing number of companies, and a growing list of individuals. The 30th anniversary of the ADA is a milestone but also serves as a marker of where we want to be 30 years from now. We want to build an inclusive global economy for all.

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