Your Workforce Includes People with Disabilities. Does Your People Strategy? | Boston Consulting Group

Leadership & Culture

As pointed out in my one-page summary on 2023 talent priorities according to seven sources, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continue to be a key focus area for many organizations. However, one study found that only 4 percent of organizations consider People with Disabilities (PwD) as part of their DEI initiatives. The UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines those for whom it advocates as “people who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.” And according to this new article by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), most companies report that their workforce includes relatively few employees with disabilities: just 4 to 7 percent on average. However, a BCG survey of nearly 28,000 employees in 16 countries (across all regions and various industries) found that roughly 25 percent of people said they have a disability or health condition that limits a major life activity. The disparity between the self-identification and employer-reported numbers of PwD suggests that employees with disabilities significantly underdisclose to their employers, perhaps fearing stigma or a negative impact on their job security or promotion prospects. One impact is that employers are missing a large-scale opportunity to enable a quarter of their workforce to bring their full selves to work. The article provides ideas on how firms can significantly improve feelings of inclusion for PwD through targeted actions: investing in employee-centric policies and programs, providing mentorship programs, and offering reasonable accommodations. As a bonus, this Gartner resource provides CHROs and DEI leaders with a one-page editable template (p.7) that can help capture a statement of DEI strategy, metrics, and risks to avoid.