By understanding employees with disabilities—and listening to their ideas—companies can unlock enormous potential.
NEW YORK December 22, 2017
Lime Connect (Lime) and Bloomberg, PwC and Unilever – three of the organization’s corporate partners – are lead sponsors of a first-of-its-kind study published by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) that finds that far more people than expected have a disability: 30 percent of college-educated employees working full-time in white-collar professions in the U.S.
Using the new, broader U.S. federal definition of disabilities (finalized in 2016, the definition now includes mental health and chronic conditions) and rigorous, nationally-representative data, CTI’s report Disabilities and Inclusion has uncovered that employees with disabilities make up an enormous talent pool that employers overlook far too often–to their own detriment.
The study also uncovered reasons that employees with disabilities have remained under the radar. Sixty-two percent of employees with disabilities have “non-visible disabilities”—people can’t tell they have a disability upon meeting them. Additionally, only 21 percent of employees with disabilities disclose them to their employers’ human resources departments.
Lack of visibility and lack of awareness about this high percentage of their workforce translates into significant costs for employers. Seventy-five percent of employees with disabilities report having an idea that would drive value for their company (versus 66 percent of employees without disabilities), yet employers may not be maximizing this potential.
“From our interviews and focus groups, we learned that people with disabilities are particularly innovative. In order to navigate the world with a disability, they have to problem-solve each day. They can contribute this gift to their employers, but only if they know they will be recognized and rewarded for it,” says Julia Taylor Kennedy, executive vice president and director of publications at CTI.
The implications of the research for companies is clear. Employers who want to elicit the best ideas from their people should rely on inclusive leadership—and this carries extra relevance for leaders of people with disabilities.
How? In prior research, CTI determined that inclusive leaders exhibit at least three of the following behaviors: ensuring everyone gets heard, making it safe to propose novel ideas, giving actionable feedback, taking advice and implementing feedback, empowering team members to make decisions, and sharing credit for team success.
Lime Connect board chairman Tom Wilson states “this ground-breaking research validates our view of both the large numbers of employees who happen to have disabilities and the broad range of non-visible disabilities which so often are not disclosed. Lime Connect and our corporate partners believe strongly in the strengths and talents that can accompany disabilities, and in providing some of the tools, and self-confidence, that can help employees with disabilities to reach their full potential.”
In addition to U.S. data, the report spotlights how the experiences of employees with disabilities in Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, and the U.K. differ from the U.S. It also includes spotlights on caregivers, employees with mental health conditions, and employees with autism spectrum disorder.
“Now that we know employees with disabilities make up nearly a third of the white-collar workforce, employers simply can’t afford to ignore this crucial talent cohort,” says Laura Sherbin, co-president of CTI and a managing partner of Hewlett Consulting Partners. “By understanding employees with disabilities—and listening to their ideas—companies can unlock enormous potential.”
The Center for Talent Innovation will present the study findings at Lime Connect’s corporate partner symposiums hosted in Toronto (January 17th) and New York City (February 1st). Lime will also release results of a corresponding survey of Lime Network members in the U.S. and Canada as a part of the symposium agenda.
For an overview of Disabilities and Inclusion, see highlights on Lime Connect’s web site here, with a link to the full report.
About Lime Connect:
Lime Connect is a global not for profit organization that's rebranding disability through achievement. We do that by attracting, preparing, and connecting high potential university students and professionals – including veterans – who happen to have all types of disabilities for scholarships, internships, The Lime Connect Fellowship Program, and full time careers with our corporate partners – the world's leading corporations. We are breaking stereotypes and leading all companies to realize the importance, and value, of employing people with disabilities at every level of education, talent and ability. See more, join The Lime Network to take advantage of our programs as a university student or professional who happens to have a disability, or join Friends of The Lime Network at http://www.limeconnect.com.
About the Center for Talent Innovation:
The Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) is a New York City–based think tank that focuses on global talent strategies and the retention and acceleration of well-qualified labor across the divides of demographic difference including gender, generation, geography, sexual orientation, and culture. CTI’s research partners now number more than 85 multinational corporations and organizations. See more at http://www.talentinnovation.org.
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