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NOD and Sirota Release Results of Landmark Employee Disability Survey

March 14, 2013
Source: National Organization on Disability (NOD)

The National Organization on Disability (NOD) and Sirota Consulting released the results of a landmark five-year survey of nearly 850,000 employees to better understand the voice of employees with disabilities. Many companies annually survey employees, but few measure gaps between employees with and without disabilities. This new data demonstrates these gaps are significant. In fact, employees with disabilities are 8% less satisfied than their colleagues without disabilities, on average. This is much larger then differences typically seen in other standard diversity and inclusion areas of study and above the 5% difference considered a ‘call to action’ for employers.

“This survey provides breakthrough data, as it is the first time that the voice of employees with disabilities is being heard in such large numbers,” said Meg O’Connell, Vice President, Corporate Programs at NOD. “As we seek to increase opportunity and economic self-sufficiency for the 29 million working-aged Americans with disabilities, our goal for this survey was to capture, assess and understand the workplace experiences of individuals with disabilities.”

During a webinar on February 27 entitled, Employees with Disabilities the Forgotten Diversity Segment: Tracking Trends, leaders from NOD and Sirota shared data from the national survey conducted over the past five years. Participants also learned how to use the data to develop a strategy to create a culture of inclusion for employees with disabilities.

“With the amount of time, energy and resources that corporate America puts into diversity programs and recruiting, there is a gap in understanding the needs of attracting, hiring and retaining talent with disabilities,” said Peter Rutigliano, PhD, Senior Consultant & Team Leader at Sirota Consulting. “They are the forgotten diversity segment. With the help of our partners at NOD, Sirota has been able to uncover those gaps which will be an invaluable tool for HR Leaders and Diversity Professionals, and all those who seek to help this population.”

Beginning in 2007, Sirota surveyed nearly 850,000 employees from 13 projects. Approximately 25,000 – or 3% -- of the employees self-identified themselves as having a disability. Sirota collects data on an ongoing basis, with between 1.5 and 2 million people surveyed annually. Of the approximately 60 projects each year, only 4% ask employees about disability.

Among the key findings:

  • Many of the largest differences were around the relationship between the employee and the company.
  • 52% of employees with disabilities say their company communicates to employees on matters that affect them; compared to 63% of non-disabled employees (-11%)
  • 62% of employees with disabilities say they have enough information to do their job well; compared to 72% of non-disabled employees (-10%)
  • The greatest differences were related to encouragement and opportunity to achieve in their position.
  • 55% of employees with disabilities say they have been given an opportunity to improve their skills; compared to 67% of non-disabled employees (-12%)
  • 48% of employees with disabilities say they are satisfied with their opportunity for advancement; compared to 59% of non-disabled employees (-11%)

“One of the most compelling findings is that the engagement drivers for employees with disabilities are the same engagement drivers for all other diverse populations,” said O’Connell. “Every employee wants to be valued and appreciated, but if you are not even counted, you can’t possibly be valued. That is why tracking and measuring is critical for companies to understand what employees with disabilities want and need in the workforce. We know the majority of companies have fairly robust diversity programs and we believe employers who begin to integrate disability into their existing diversity efforts will see results in being able to attract and retain talent.”

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