Major US firms score highly on the 2021 Disability Equality Index®

The DEI is a benchmarking tool that evaluates whether companies have policies that promote inclusion for disabled groups

Pennsylvania-based insurance firm, Lincoln Financial Group has been listed as a disability inclusive employer for the sixth consecutive year with a 100 score on the 2021 Disability Equality Index® (DEI).

The DEI recognises Lincoln’s continued commitment to creating an accessible and inclusive environment for people with disabilities.

The company’s aim to create and maintain a disability-inclusive workplace culture is supported by its seven Business Resource Groups (BRGs). Lincoln’s People with disAbilities BRG was established in 2013 and “strives to create awareness and opportunities for employees with disabilities—both seen and unseen.”

The DEI explained

The DEI is a joint initiative between the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN, an organisation that empowers companies to achieve disability inclusion and equality.

The DEI serves as a benchmarking tool that evaluates whether companies have policies that promote equal opportunity employment, diversity, and whether they encourage people with disabilities to be themselves and have practices in place that provide accessibility.

This year, 319 Fortune 1000 companies were evaluated in categories including culture and leadership, enterprise-wide access, employment practices, community engagement, and supplier diversity. In 2021 the DEI added new questions about innovative technology to advance digital and remote accessibility, mental wellness benefits, services for deaf and hard of hearing employees, and flexible work options.

By receiving a top score on the DEI, companies must demonstrate significant business leadership and prove they’ve gone far beyond compliance activities to drive business success through leading disability inclusion policies and practices.

Each company receives a score, on a scale of zero (0) to 100. Those earning 80 and above were recognised as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion.”

Jen Warne, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Lincoln Financial Group said: “At Lincoln, our inclusive culture values the diversity of all employees and we respect each individuals’ ability to contribute their knowledge and strengths towards our common goal of helping all Americans achieve their financial futures. We’re proud to be recognised on the Disability Equality Index for the sixth consecutive year. As a top scorer, this designation serves as a reminder of the work we do every day to ensure that all of our employees come to work feeling safe, respected, valued, and included. We continue this work and strive to be better every day.”

Allison Green Johnson, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Lincoln Financial Group added: “We see the results of being steadfast stewards of diversity, equity, and inclusion as it strengthens our organisational culture, attracts the best and brightest talent and creates a rewarding work experience for all at Lincoln. We value, uphold, and commend diversity and inclusion in all its forms and are honored to be recognised again as the best place to work for Disability Inclusion.”

San-Diego based public transport corporation Cubic also scored highly on the 2021 Disability Equality Index® where it was one of 191 companies to receive a score of 100.

Brad Feldmann, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cubic Corporation said: “The Disability Equality Index offers valuable insight into Cubic’s current disability inclusion efforts and provides guidance on how we can continue to evolve. As an organisation that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, we want to minimise barriers – whether they are physical, mental, visible, or invisible – standing in the way of our disabled community. By upholding this commitment, we can help reduce stigmas associated with disability and promote a workplace that leads to higher engagement, productivity, and innovation.”

Grace Lee, Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer, Cubic Corporation added: “We have collaborated closely with CAN, our disability employee resource group to adjust our practices and policies to better serve our disabled workforce. We recognise the need to educate and empower our global teams with skills and resources to cultivate a diverse, inclusive environment. Disability awareness, accommodation, and related initiatives are critical to an environment where everyone can thrive and grow their careers.”

Jill Houghton, President and Chief Executive Officer, Disability:IN said: “We are so pleased to partner with 319 companies this year on the Disability Equality Index. Part of corporate commitment to disability inclusion is recognising your stance and using it as an ‘aha moment’ to drive the business investments needed to scale change. Inclusion and accessibility cuts across the enterprise from cultural representation in the workforce, to technology acceleration, to incorporating supply chain diversity. These are tangible opportunities that leading companies can leverage to create sustainable impact for their business and brand.”

New-York based financial services firm, Voya Financial also scored an impressive 100 on the 2021 Disability Equality Index®.

The company’s commitment to supporting people with disabilities is demonstrated through its ‘Voya Cares®’ programme which delivers access to special needs financial planning resources to increase the financial well-being of those with special needs, disabilities, and their caregivers.

Voya also supports its employees with disabilities as well as caregivers and allies through its ‘Disabilities and Special Needs’ council which is employee-led. The council helps “drive the company’s internal and external efforts that support the disabilities and special needs community.”

Rodney O. Martin, Jr., chairman and CEO, Voya Financial, Inc said: “This very important distinction as a ‘Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion’ reflects our continued efforts to build a culture of inclusion for our colleagues, clients, and communities. We will continue to drive positive change and leverage the DEI to help build better products, a stronger workforce, and a more innovative supply chain.”

Minneapolis-based financial services company Ameriprise Financial follows closely behind the others with a 90 rating.

The firm’s initiatives that support disabled employees include sponsorship of an employee-led business resource network, STRIVE, that offers education and support for employees with seen and unseen disabilities and those who want to learn more.

The network focuses on eliminating stigmas around physical and mental health issues as well as providing resources for those in need. Each year, the network hosts an annual Polar Plunge event in the company’s HQ in Minneapolis to raise funds for Special Olympics Minnesota.

They also participate in recruiting events with organisations that reach diverse candidates, including people with disabilities. They also partner with Lifeworks, a nonprofit organisation that helps differently-abled individuals find meaningful training and employment.

Rudy Rodriguez, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Ameriprise Financial said: “At Ameriprise, we embrace the unique contributions of our employees and are committed to building an inclusive culture where everyone can feel they belong and has the opportunity to succeed in their careers. We are proud to be recognised among the top companies that foster an inclusive and accessible workplace.”

Software company Citrix Systems Inc was also shortlisted by the DEI. The firm, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida scored 100 and was first named in the index back in 2019.

Scott Ballina, Senior Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Citrix said: “At Citrix, we understand the importance of creating a positive, inclusive environment where people can be themselves and work authentically because when you build an ecosystem in which employees have equal opportunities to make meaningful contributions, you inspire creativity and innovation, which ultimately leads to better solutions and services and happier customers. We are working hard to create a better way to work through the power of human difference, empowered by authentic connections, and enabled by people-centered technologies, and are pleased to be recognised by the DEI for our efforts.”

Foodservice corporation Aramark, based in Philadelphia, US, also earned a top 100 score on the DEI, marking the fifth year in a row that they have been shortlisted.

The Company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are led via eleven employee resource groups, including Aramark Thrive, which supports the interests of team members who self-identify as disabled and for caretakers and advocates of those with disabilities.

Ash Hanson, Chief Diversity & Sustainability Officer at Aramark said: “Aramark strives to create equity and increase access to opportunities for all employees. We are committed to removing the barriers that may prevent individuals with disabilities from being fully empowered. Thanks to the incredible work of our ERGs, like Aramark Thrive, we are inspiring everyone to thrive in our company and have fulfilling careers in hospitality.”

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