The business imperative is clear. With demographic and population shifts, globalization, advances in technology and communications, diverse perspectives serving a common purpose have huge potential to drive growth for companies and economies.
Innovation and creativity are spurred by different perspectives, and the perspective and talent people who have a disability bring to the workplace has unexpected and measurable economic benefits.
Take the business case of US pharmacy giant Walgreens, the second largest pharmacy chain in the United States. In 2009, Walgreens employed 238,000 people and had fiscal revenues of $63.3 billion USD.
In 2006 with universal design in mind, Walgreens opened the Anderson, South Carolina Distribution Centre to create a workplace where people who have a disability could work alongside employees without disabilities.
In Canada, companies such as TD Bank, CIBC, and SAP have firsthand experience of the positive benefit of hiring from a diverse talent pool that includes people who have a disability. In January of 2017, CIBC announced its commitment to hiring 500 new team members with disabilities after a successful program of hiring people on the Autism spectrum for their Risk Management and Technology and Operations Departments.
Laura Dottori-Attanasio, Senior Executive Vice-President and Chief Risk Officer said “We recognize that persons with disabilities are a largely untapped resource pool.”
In a survey of 64 major Canadian employers, RBC research found that almost 90% strongly believe diverse and inclusive teams make better decisions; 66% of employers strongly believe, while another 20% agree that leveraging diverse backgrounds and individuals is fundamental to their organizations’ performance. Half of the respondents take diversity seriously enough to use scorecards to track their annual performance.
In general, the benefits of inclusive hiring practices include an increase in productivity and better access to a diverse customer base. As well, when companies do business with ‘disability confidence’ they better anticipate the needs of their employees and customers who have a disability. It’s also true that managers of employees with disabilities acquire better people management skills that benefit all employees.
By: Ingrid Muschta, a diversity and inclusion specialist at Ontario Disability Employment Network. Joe Dale, executive director of Ontario Disability Employment Network.