Individuals with disabilities make up 15% of the world’s population – that’s 1 billion people – and this is likely a significant underestimate. Despite being one in five or six of us globally, people with disabilities are half as likely to be employed as their non-disabled peers.
A discussion of the worldwide employment participation disparity for individuals with disabilities is imperative, because disability is a thread that can be woven into every conversation regarding the economy, global health and wellbeing and the environment, as well as technology and the arts. For example, consideration of the needs of people with disabilities in the design of digital products and services has long been in the view of IT giants such as Apple, IBM and Microsoft. These interests are increasingly being infused into the product design of social media corporations like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. These companies realize that designing elements that make websites accessible to blind or deaf users are also likely to make these products usable and attractive to the world’s growing population of older people. This significantly extends the potential market share for such products, while also enabling ease of use for older workers and those with disabilities who want to participate in increasingly technology-driven workplaces.
So it’s time for disability to be at the heart of any discussion centred on the economy, technology and global wellbeing. A critical part of this conversation is the role of the private sector in contributing to improved employment outcomes for people with disabilities. There are many opportunities throughout the employment process where employers can facilitate disability inclusion, such as recruitment and hiring, career development and retention, accessibility and accommodation, compensation and benefits, and diversity and inclusion, as well as the metrics and analytics that companies can use to measure their progress across each of these areas.