Disability Equality Index Open to Largest, Publicly Traded Companies

Fortune 1000 companies can have disability practices measured and graded

By Dana Wilkie Aug 7, 2014
Fortune 1000 companies can now see how their disability inclusion policies and practices stack up against those of their competitors.

Business groups and disability advocates have called for companies to register for the first Annual Disability Equality Index (DEI), an online benchmarking tool that will provide each organization a disability-inclusion score, based on a scale of zero to 100.

“Companies that participate in the DEI will be able to benchmark their progress year over year,” said Jill Houghton, executive director of the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN), a national nonprofit that helps companies incorporate disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace. “The DEI is … intended to help companies identify opportunities for continued improvement and help build a company’s reputation as an employer of choice.”

The USBLN created the index with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), which promotes equal opportunity, economic power, independent living and political participation for people with disabilities.

The index creators have invited Fortune magazine's 1,000 largest publicly traded businesses to participate in the October 2014 launch of their first index. Other companies that are invited to participate—provided they have 3,000 or more full-time employees in the U.S.—include:

  • Private-sector employers not owned by a larger U.S. incorporated entity.
  • Businesses that serve as a U.S. subsidiary of a foreign-based multinational business.
  • Foreign-owned private companies on behalf of their U.S. operations.
There’s a $500 fee to participate in the index, which will be used to cover the costs of administering the survey, said Mark Perriello, president and CEO of the AAPD.

The survey is designed to measure a company’s commitment to the following: a culture and a leadership team that support disability inclusion; workplace accessibility; benefits, accommodations, and recruitment and employment practices that support those with disabilities; and community efforts that support those with disabilities.

Each of these areas will be weighted so that the four categories add up to 100 points. 100 is the highest score a company can earn.

“We consider a high score to be 80 or above,” Houghton said. “Our goal is to empower organizations to achieve the highest possible score and to be recognized for their successes.”

The tool was developed by an advisory committee that included experts from the business and disability communities.

Registration is now open at https://disabilityequalityindex.org/deisurvey. Registration closes Oct. 24, 2014. Companies can start taking the online survey in late October, with responses due in February 2015. DEI survey scores will be finalized in April 2015 and the names of top-scoring companies will be published on the DEI website. The names of companies that score 70 or below will be kept confidential.

Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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