Investors representing more than $1 trillion in combined assets, led by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read, today called on companies they invest in to create inclusive workplaces that can benefit from employing the millions of talented people with disabilities who remain underrepresented in the workforce. Signatories to the joint statement included New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), and Fortune 500 asset manager Voya Financial.
“Disability inclusion provides businesses with a great opportunity to improve their bottom lines, while boosting diversity and innovation,” said Comptroller DiNapoli, Trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund. “We want to know that our investment dollars are being used to maximize a company’s potential and its long-term profitability. Disability inclusion expands the pool of talent companies can hire from and creates welcoming workplaces that foster different perspectives, giving an enterprise a competitive edge.”
“Companies that embrace disability inclusion in the workplace benefit from increased innovation as well as profitability,” said Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read. “We are asking the companies we invest in to adopt policies to improve the representation of people with disabilities in their workforce and continue to identify opportunities for improvement.”
"Today's announcement on disability equality by the nation's leading institutional investors and pension funds marks a key turning point in the disability rights movement," said Ted Kennedy, Jr., bone cancer survivor, amputee and Board Chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). "This new, concerted focus on corporate and shareholder engagement and accountability catapults the issue of disability inclusion into the forefront of corporate social responsibility and environmental, social and corporate governance — ESG — investing. Citizens, employees and shareholders will now be watching how companies respond to this new challenge and which corporations authentically support our goal of economic independence and workforce participation of millions of Americans with disabilities."
When companies adopt best practices for hiring people with disabilities, they outperform their peers among numerous financial metrics, according to “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage,” a report published in 2018 by Accenture, Disability:IN, and AAPD.
The report concluded that corporate America has failed to capitalize on the talents of more than 10 million people with disabilities.
In their joint statement, the investors called for companies to adopt policies for:
- Setting goals for hiring people with disabilities and tracking progress in meeting those goals;
- Public support from a senior executive for creating a disability-focused employee resource group that fosters a supportive network; and
- Including people with disabilities in their corporate diversity and inclusion statements.
The investors’ statement also encouraged companies to participate in the Disability Equality Index (DEI). The DEI, an initiative of Disability:IN and AAPD, allows companies to self-report and benchmark their disability policies and practices and identify ways to build reputations as inclusive organizations. In January, Comptroller DiNapoli wrote to 49 corporations in the portfolio of New York state’s pension fund, urging them to register for the DEI. A number of companies participated as a result.
“Companies looking to get started on or advance in their disability inclusion journey should attend the Disability:IN Annual Conference on July 16-18 in Chicago and/or register for the 2020 DEI,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of Disability:IN. “These opportunities will allow companies to benchmark and network with their industry peers to advance their inclusion efforts.”
This multi-state investor group is supported by various disability organizations, including members of the National Disability Leadership Alliance, representing some of the leading disability rights organizations throughout the nation. The full list of disability organizations that support this investor initiative is available here.
The full text of the investors’ statement is available here: https://osc.state.ny.us/sites/default/files/other/documents/pdf/2019-06/disability-inclusion-investor-statement.pdf