Ep 250: Exploring the ROI of Diversity and Equity

Best practices and benchmarking are great ways to level the set where your organization is in any part of the business compared to competitors, friends, and partners. Having benchmarks is a great way to see how you stack up when it comes to your inclusive workplace programs including people with disabilities. Doing so helps you understand where the bar is and the direction and path you need to go to get there.This podcast is powered by PEAT and is part of our Future of Work series.

Ep 250: Exploring the ROI of Diversity and Equity with Jill Houghton (@JillHoughton)

This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of our Future of Work series powered by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this year, we’re investigating what the next 30 years will look like for people with disabilities at work, and the potential of emerging technologies to make workplaces more inclusive and accessible. Today, I’m joined by Jill Houghton. Jill is the CEO of Disability:IN. Jill also testifies before congressional committees, works with various government agencies in addition to her role as CEO. 

What is the Diversity Equality Index? 

Jill says that the Diversity Equality Index stands for DEI. It’s one of Disability: In’s signature initiatives developed in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities. These two organizations came together about nine years ago and formed an advisory committee of people with and without disabilities who sit in and outside of business to create a benchmarking tool really comprehensive to help business get started and identify opportunities for improvement. DEI measures things like leadership and culture, employment practices, enterprise wide access, community engagement, supplier diversity and non US operations. The index has six categories. The tool contains weighted and non weighted questions, a company that scores an 80, 90 or 100 earns the right to be designated a best place to work for disability inclusion.

Businesses can get started at Disabilityequalityindex.org, and Jill suggests to looking registration details which for for the 2021 DEI  is open until January 29th of 2021. Even if you don’t participate, you can also access download the survey yourself. A company’s results from the DEI are confidential. It’s a great way for employers to evaluate their organizations and get feedback and resources to help make meaningful changes when it comes to diversity and equality. In addition to the index, Disability:IN has so many amazing resources for employers to get started and we’ve included links in the resources below.

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ROI in Employing People with Disabilities

One of the biggest challenges for HR leaders is communicating the value to the executive leadership on employing people with disabilities. I asked Jill how HR and business leaders can help make the business case to employ more people with disabilities. The Accenture report which is available in the resources below found is that companies that really embrace best practices for disability inclusion now perform their peers with things like 20% higher revenue, two times net income, 30% higher economic profit margins. Jill says that the data makes the business case especially when you consider that one in four Americans have a disability and globally it’s one billion people.


Jill said it best, “Accessibility is a journey.” And the work that Disability In and their DEI index make it easier for you to be focused, organized, and informed about where you are as an organization on that journey. I encourage you to check out their resources and the survey questions as part of the DEI index. Awareness is the first step in getting started and the resources that Jill mentioned today can help you get started or move forward in your inclusive workplace strategies. I want to bring attention again to what Jill said that 1 in 4 employees in your workplace has a disability. These employees are already working in your organization and it’s up to us to foster cultures that are inclusive of all people including people with disabilities.

Connect with Jill Houghton



Jill Houghton on Twitter


– Accenture: The disability inclusion advantage

– Ep 242 – What’s the Future of Autism Hiring Programs

Encourage Employee Resource Groups to Leverage Social Media by Workology

Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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