is not only one of the top telecommunications corporations in the world, but is also a model
for programs that support the disabled workforce. They are particularly successful in their implementation of diversity programs, so that not only are they weaving accessibility and inclusion into the fabric of their business, but they also produce special opportunities for the disadvantaged disabled workforce to get ahead.
Here’s what they had to say:
“AT&T is company where everyone’s differences are authentically embraced, valued and vital to our business inside and out. People with disabilities are no exception. I’ve seen this personally, because it’s part of my charge. Whether it is by ensuring an accessible environment so employees can win at work or offering the accessibility products and services to our customers, accessibility is our commitment to connect people to the world around them. In addition to our Corporate Accessibility Technology Office (CATO), our longstanding relationship with Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities helps us find and hire college graduates with disabilities. Finally, our Employee Resource Group IDEAL (Individuals with Disabilities Enabling Advocacy Link) is 4,300 members strong and plays a big role in ensuring we continue to stay ahead of the issues that this community faces.”
-Cynthia Marshall, SVP Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer, AT&T
4. Ernst & Young
, a global leader in professional services, is proud of their mission to “[embrace] all abilities.” Built by a founder with a disability, Arthur Young, their commitment to disability inclusion ranges from signing
on to the Business Taskforce On Accessibilities (BTAT) Charter to programs
such as EY AccessAbilities and the Abilities Champion Network, which respectively give EY employees the resources they need to develop their skills and advocate for accessible policies and disability awareness in the workplace.
Here’s what they had to say:
“Ernst & Young seeks the best talent- period. To find the specialized skills we need, we have to tap the broadest available talent pools, including people with a wide range of physical, cognitive and mental health abilities. We know that diverse teams produce better solutions, so there’s a clear performance advantage to bringing together people with all kinds of differences - in gender, ethnicity, orientation, age, background, and abilities. Employees with disabilities have higher retention rates, so for many businesses, there can be a real cost savings through reduced turnover. Studies show that consumers prefer doing business with companies that employ people with disabilities, so there’s brand value. Research has also found organizations employing people with disabilities have higher morale and employee engagement, which we know drives profitability. Finally, people with disabilities often have well-honed problem solving skills and a degree of adaptability that are especially valuable in today’s fast changing business environment. At Ernst & Young, we learned this early in our history, as our co-founder, Arthur Young, was deaf and had low vision. Unable to successfully practice as a courtroom lawyer because of his disabilities, he turned to the emerging field of accounting, where he became an innovator and entrepreneur.”
-Lori B. Golden, Abilities Strategy Leader, Ernst & Young, LLP
To summarize, these companies are not only extremely successful leaders in their fields but are also powerful models of disability inclusion that make compelling arguments for greater disability workforce inclusion. They not only reject the outdated ideas that disabled workers are liabilities to business, but actively promote the perspective that workers of all abilities bring different strengths to the companies’ missions. There are clear capitalist benefits to inclusive hiring. As stated by Shawna Berger, Director of Marketing and Communications at the US Business Leadership Network:
“Businesses that embrace disability inclusion have found there is a positive correlation between their profitability, employee morale and engagement. These businesses report lower turnover, better safety records, innovation and higher productivity among their employees with disabilities. For customer-facing companies, there is the side benefit of customer loyalty from America’s largest minority group, numbering 56.7 million Americans.”