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CTI Report on Disabilities and Inclusion

Having to problem-solve all the time, people with disabilities are particularly innovative

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A study released in Octover 2017 by the U.S.-based Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) reports that 30 percent of college-educated employees working full time in white-collar professions in the U.S. have some sort of disability. The report, Disabilities and Inclusion, uses the new (as of 2016), broader U.S. federal definition of disabilities, which includes mental health and chronic conditions, and concludes that employers far too often overlook the enormous talent pool of disabled workers, mostly to their own detriment.

The study revealed that as many as 75% of employees with disabilities report experiencing negative bias at their companies, while a majority feel stalled in their careers. 62% of employees with disabilities have ‘invisible disabilities’ that are not apparent upon meeting them, and only 21% disclose those disabilities to their employers’ human resources departments.

Invisibility and the lack of awareness about this high percentage of their workforce translates into significant costs for employers. 75% of disabled employees reported that they had an idea that would drive value for their company (versus 66% of employees without disabilities).

Julia Taylor Kennedy, executive vice president and director of publications at CTI, makes what may be a non-obvious point: “From our interviews and focus groups, we learned that people with disabilities are particularly innovative. In order to navigate the work with a disability, they have to problem-solve each day. They can contribute this gift to their employers, but only if they know they will be recognized and rewarded for it.”

CTI determined that inclusive employers:

  • Insure everyone is heard
  • Make sure it is safe to propose novel ideas
  • Give actionable feedback
  • Take advice and implement feedback
  • Empower team members to make decisions
  • Share credit for team success.

The report also highlights how employers can signal inclusion, and showcases best practices from companies like Accenture, Bloomberg, and Unilever, as well as the U.S. Business Leadership and Lime Connect, which have expertise on the topic of employing people with disabilities.

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