2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark civil rights legislation that has ensured improved access to employment services and programs for the millions of people living with disabilities in our country.
This anniversary makes even more meaningful our first-ever appearance on the Disability Equality Index® (DEI), a national benchmarking of businesses to gauge their level of disability workplace inclusion. The index was developed in 2015 by the American Association of People with Disabilities and the disability inclusion nonprofit Disability:IN. It measures areas including culture and leadership; employment practices; community engagement; supplier diversity and accessibility. I’m proud to report that in our initial appearance on the list, we earned a top score of 100 percent.
While Siemens has been devoted to disability inclusion for years, when we explored the DEI, we still found opportunities to improve our commitment and make it more transparent. For example, we’ve sponsored the Special Olympics, host an employee resource group for those with differing abilities and their allies and have an internship program specifically designed for high-schoolers aged 18 to 22 with intellectual impairments. But, we learned that we should enhance our written policy on accommodations, and ensure the procedure for requesting one was readily available for both employees and managers. We also realized that by sharing our position more publicly, we might influence other companies to join the inclusion effort. With this additional focus, we not only filled the gaps but evolved to go above and beyond.
“The best way to attract, retain and grow talent with disabilities is to create an accessible, inclusive workplace,” said Jill Houghton, president and CEO of Disability:IN. “As a top-scoring company, Siemens is demonstrating its commitment to leading disability inclusion practices featured in the DEI.”
To have a truly inclusive corporate culture, leaders must value the importance of what individuals say they need to feel comfortable and welcomed. We must value a diverse workforce and we must provide equity. Why? Because we can enable, engage and empower employees who feel they belong and who reflect our customers and communities we serve. As those employees grow and succeed, they are fueling the creativity and innovation a company needs to be healthier, stronger and more sustainable.
Published: July 15, 2020