Season two of the DE Talk podcast covered a variety of topics ranging from AI-driven talent acquisition technologies and professional development to recruitment marketing and military caregivers, and so many great conversations were had! With our final episode of the season launching during Disability Awareness Month in March, we thought it would be the perfect time to have our friend Carol Glazer from the National Organization on Disability (NOD) join us for a conversation on disability employment. Have a look at the highlights from the conversation below, and take some time to listen to the episode while you drink your morning coffee or commute to the office.
One of the things that I really want to have you talk about is probably my favorite tool that you guys offer and that’s a disability employment tracker. And it’s a free tool. Can you tell us when it was first introduced, what its purpose is and how it differs from other similar tools in the industry? Because we all know that there are so many out there!
Yeah, thank you, Candee. We developed this tool, the tracker is a survey, it’s got about 100 questions on it, takes about two hours to complete. The results are confidential, they’re sent to each individual employer along with a scorecard that tells you where you are, and stack up against the others in the pool as a benchmarking tool. And we developed it about nine years ago, because we, again, I think the disability rights as a pursuit, and disability as a diversity segment, we’re sort of the new kids on the block. We haven’t been at the diversity table for very long. We’ve been left out in many respects. And as we try to catch up, it becomes really important to be able to speak about measurement and numbers, and to be able to talk about disability inclusion as a business imperative, and not simply as a social justice issue. But as an issue of talent, and what a company needs to do to attract the very best talent of every skill and every ability.
And so, we thought it was important to speak not only subjectively, about workforce inclusion, but also to give employers a quantitative measure of how they stack up. And businesses love competition, they thrive on it and they’re certainly used to it. So, our theory was if you develop a benchmarking tool that allows companies to measure its progress against that of other companies, year-over-year, they can measure their progress along their own trend lines, and we would be able to advance the field a lot more quickly. We started this years ago, we had 20 companies, and then 40 companies for a few years. And then in the last three or four years, we’ve had more than 200.
That gives companies a terrific quantitative measure. It’s not NOD coming in subjectively and giving our views about what an employer needs to do. It’s purely quantitative, it’s all about the data.
Companies will still often look at the sector in which they operate. And so, we have an ability to slice up the data and compare you if you’re in manufacturing and want to see how you do against other companies in that sector, you can get that assessment from us as well. So, it’s a snapshot of where you were at any given point in time against others in the pool. Over time, what a lot of companies do is because enough of the survey stays the same from year to year, a company can chart its own progress and its own trends year-over-year. A lot of companies do that. And you can use it as a way of developing your own strategy, you can use it as a way of gaining buy-in for your agenda from other parts of the company, from senior leaders, from those in a position to allocate dollars to disability inclusion.
So, it gives a company its own trend, and then its status against others. And then finally for us, and this is the most exciting part for me, is it gives us a sense of what’s happening in the whole field. So, when we take the 200 companies and we aggregate those results, and we look year-over-year at what’s happening in this marketplace, we can start seeing where the trends are. And what we’ve been able to do now, and this year I’m so excited about the latest development with a tracker, is that we’re adding outcome measures. Self ID has been the outcome measure that we have looked at year-over-year. It’s what federal contractors care about, and what everybody cares about. How many people in your workforce, what percentage is willing to come forward and identify as having a disability?
Well, you know what, yeah, I think that honestly, Carol, I think that the most important piece of that is building the culture so that people feel okay with saying, “Yes, I have a disability.” That’s the holdup. And I had to self-identify a few years ago when I went to Cardinal Health, and that gave me real heartache. Because I knew if I was going to lead the compliance group, I had to say, “Yes, I’m a person with a disability.” And I had a real hard time with it. Because I live with a condition, I don’t like the word disability myself. It’s kind of like everybody has their own terminology, whether it’s race and ethnicity, gender now, everybody has their own terminology. And I just live with a condition. And so, I think that was a real challenge for me. But if your company is open and accepting, and makes you feel like you’re no different from anybody else, that makes all the difference in the world. It really does.
Exactly. I think you’ve really put your finger on something important and so I’ll give you a data point. 65% of the companies who took the tracker survey last year reported that they had a Self ID campaign going on at some point in the year. And that’s a big number, and it’s expensive. Self ID campaigns are very expensive. Less than 50% of the companies who have the Self ID campaign reported increases in Self ID as a result of the campaign. So, you’ve got expensive campaigns, almost two-thirds of the companies in the pool report them, and fewer than half report success. Now, why is that? And it gets back to what you were talking about, Candee. It’s about trust, it’s about, “why does an employer only come forward and want to know who I am once a year during a campaign,” or “does an employer really want me to bring forward who I am, help me get the accommodations I need, not judge me and not negatively sanction me because I have a disability.”
Interesting stuff—thanks for chatting with us, Carol! Be sure to listen to the full episode to learn more about NOD’s Disability Employment Tracker, as well as their Corporate Leadership Council and how your organization can get involved as a disability-inclusive employer. Thanks for listening in on season two, as well as your continued support of the DE Talk podcast! We’ll be back later this year with a new season and a whole new set of interesting topics!