Disability as a Source of Competitive Advantage | Harvard Business Review

Talent Management

Last month, I shared an article by BCG titled “Your Workforce Includes People with Disabilities. Does Your People Strategy?” The article reveals that many organizations report a relatively low percentage of employees considered People with Disabilities (PwD), averaging only 4 to 7 percent. However, a BCG survey found that approximately 25 percent of workers reported having a disability or health condition that limits a major life activity. The UN Convention on Rights of PwD defines those for whom it advocates as “individuals with long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments as those who face obstacles hindering their full participation in society on an equal basis with others.” As noted in the BCG article, the gap between the self-identification of individuals with disabilities and the numbers reported by employers suggests that employees with disabilities are significantly less likely to disclose their condition to their employers due to potential stigma, concerns about job security, or the impact on promotion opportunities. In this new Harvard Business Review article, the authors emphasize four competitive advantages of including individuals with disabilities in the workforce, citing the presence of unique talents. For instance, academics who study autism found strong links between autism and aptitude at tasks requiring attention to detail. Another example is that those with dyslexia may excel at detecting anomalies in data. This in-depth article shares examples of how organizations are creating opportunities for PwD to express their unique talents. As a bonus, here is a previously shared article on how Mastercard goes about recruiting and hiring those who identify as being neurodiverse—a term that refers to people who think differently than the majority of people.