The Business Case For Disability Inclusion

As calls for reform and racial justice continue to upend American politics, other minority groups are raising their voices for change.

July marks thirty years since the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law yet disabled persons are still fighting for equality. The businesses and investors that have come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement should observe this landmark anniversary by reconsidering their accessibility practices, not least because of the staggeringly high unemployment rate for this group.

While the ADA made buildings and infrastructure more physically accessible, the next generation of advocates are calling for more inclusive digital products, more resources for the hearing-impaired and to combat mental illness.

Beyond these specific policy changes, however, disabled persons are challenging ableism in all facets of culture and commerce by demanding full inclusion in business, government, and representation in the media.

The private sector may finally be heeding the call, with a push from investors. As with climate change issues, investor groups are using their voting rights to push for inclusive hiring and policy changes. They argue that research demonstrating the financial benefits of diversity extend to disabled persons. The New York and Massachusetts state public employee retirement funds are leading the charge, urging companies to join the Disability Equality Index.

With COVID-19 prompting investors to focus on social issues, disability inclusion may become a critical piece of leading ESG strategies.