The Cornell Just-in-Time Toolkit for Managers

Tips, checklists, and resources to help managers lead a disability inclusive workforce.

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Disability IS Diversity – The Business Case for Disability Inclusiveness

The face of disability

  • Individuals with disabilities can be in any profession and any walk of life. There are individuals with disabilities who are business leaders, Nobel Prize winners, world-class athletes, truck-drivers, teachers, artists, accountants, and politicians. People with disabilities are your neighbors, your family members, your co-workers, maybe even yourself, and most importantly for managers, your employees. 
  • Disability is one of the largest diversity populations in our country today.

 By the numbers 

  • About 57 million Americans have a disability.
  • About one in five Americans lives with a disability.
  • Most individuals with disabilities who are unemployed say they want to work and have the qualifications needed to work.
  • Individuals with disabilities are the largest untapped source of talent in our country today.

 Challenge low expectations

  • Research indicates individuals with disabilities perform as well as others on the job. 
  • Many times, the most significant problem faced by individuals with disabilities is not the disability itself, but the attitudes of others.

 Workforce Trends

  • Individuals with disabilities will increasingly become a key resource for Cornell.
  • More of Cornell’s potential talent pool will have a disability in the years to come.
  • Disability inclusiveness will be a key part of being able to attract talent as younger workers increasingly report wanting to work in organizations that do the right thing.
  • About 25% of people entering the workforce today will develop a disability that will significantly disrupt their careers before they are 65. 
  • Employers who can respond quickly and effectively to employees who have or develop a disability will have a competitive edge over those who can’t. 

 About invisible or non-obvious disabilities 

  • Many (or even most) disabilities, though covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, are not obvious to others. 

Our aging population; our aging workforce 

  • More individuals with disabilities will be in the workforce as our population ages and as better assistive technologies enable individuals with disabilities to work.
  • As we age, we are more likely to acquire a disability.
  • 76 million baby boomers are expected to exit the workforce over the next five to ten years. This will be the largest mass-exodus from the US workforce in our history and will represent a significant brain drain as many of these retirees will come from key leadership roles. Having effective disability inclusive practices could make the difference in keeping this talent engaged and could be a significant source of competitive advantage for many organizations.