December 3, 2017
USBLN Statement on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Written by Jill Houghton, President and CEO of USBLN

Today we celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, that was first proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly. While much has been accomplished, more remains to be done to make the world truly inclusive.

This year, the theme is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all”. At USBLN, we believe it is with transparency, universality and accountability that, together, we can achieve this.

USBLN, as a non-profit organization, advocates for disability inclusion across the entire business; the workforce, marketplace and supply chain. Our network has grown, and since 2012 we have more than doubled our corporate partners. This growth signifies that disability has become an increasingly competitive advantage for corporate America, and the value of inclusivity is real.

There have been wins. Take for example, a cohort of companies within our Going for the Gold program. Through guidance from USBLN subject matter experts, these companies have increased hiring of people with disabilities ten-fold. The Billion Dollar Roundtable now includes Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (DOBEs®), Service-Disabled Veteran Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (SDV-DOBE™) and Veteran-Disability Owned Business Enterprises (V-DOBEs™) towards a corporation’s billion dollar supply chain spend on diverse-owned businesses. There’s been a rally around a11y, and senior leaders, developers, marketers, and educators around the world are embracing accessibility, as proven by a11y wins.

However, there’s still more to be done. Globally, people with disabilities account for 15% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, according to the World Report on DisabilityLast year in the United States, only 20% of people with a disability participated in the labor force compared to 68.5% of people without a disability, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. We have to do better, and at USBLN we believe it is with transparency, universality, and accountability, that will help us reach a sustainable and resilient society for all.

Transparency is a key pillar of the USBLN and by extension, also a key pillar of the Disability Equality Index (DEI), a benchmarking tool USBLN created in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities. Not only are the DEI benchmarking questions publically available, but we also publish the aggregate results for the world to view. We’re proud to see 95% of participating companies report they have external recruiting efforts in place that are specifically geared towards hiring people with disabilities. However, why is it only 51% of participating companies are reporting having disability included in their supplier disability programs? It is through this type of data and transparency we can all learn and improve together.

Companies are getting closer to the universality principle of disability inclusion. Perhaps it’s the realization that as many as 30% of full-time, college-educated professionals in the U.S. have a disability. People with disabilities are the largest, unrepresented minority. Whether it be a giant step towards supporting employees’ mental health, or hiring more veterans with disabilities, or building products with universal design, universality of disability inclusion builds the sustainability of the company. This principle builds the character of the organization, and in turn reduces the risk and improves the return of the portfolio.

Lastly, we must hold each other accountable if we are to strive for a sustainable and resilient society. That’s why USBLN works in partnership with organizations such as the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and WEConnect International. We all deserve a seat at the table, and as the 2030 Agenda commits to “leave no one behind”, we hold our collective corporate partners accountable.

Today, as we celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, USBLN pledges to continue being transparent, universal, and accountable in hopes of a more sustainable and resilient society for all.


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