Disability as diversity in fortune 100 companies

Authors

  • Phoebe Ball,

    1. Law, Health Policy and Disability Center, University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, IA 52242, U.S.A.
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    • Phoebe Ball is Program Associate, Law, Health Policy and Disability Center (LHPDC), University of Iowa College of Law; J.D., Northeastern University School of Law.

  • Gregory Monaco,

    1. Law, Health Policy and Disability Center, University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, IA 52242, U.S.A.
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    • Gregory Monaco is Note and Comment Editor, Iowa Law Review, University of Iowa College of Law; J.D. (expected May, 2005).

  • James Schmeling,

    1. Law, Health Policy and Disability Center, University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, IA 52242, U.S.A.
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    • James Schmeling is Associate Director, LHPDC, University of Iowa College of Law; J.D., University of Iowa.

  • Helen Schartz,

    1. Law, Health Policy and Disability Center, University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, IA 52242, U.S.A.
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    • Helen A. Schartz is Director of Research, Associate Research Scientist, LHPDC; Ph.D., University of Iowa; J.D., University of Iowa College of Law.

  • Peter Blanck

    Corresponding author
    1. Law, Health Policy and Disability Center, University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, IA 52242, U.S.A.
    • Law, Health Policy and Disability Center, University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, IA 52242, U.S.A.
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    • Peter Blanck is Charles M. and Marion Kierscht Professor of Law, and Professor of Public Health, and of Psychology at the University of Iowa, and Director of the LHPDC, Ph.D., Harvard University, J.D., Stanford University.


  • The program of research described herein is supported, in part, by grants to Blanck from The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education grants: (1) “Technology for Independence: A Community-Based Resource Center,” #H133A021801; (2) “IT Works,” #H133A011803; (3) The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Workforce Investment and Employment Policy for People with Disabilities, #H133B980042-99; The University of Iowa College of Law Foundation; and a generous endowment to the LHPDC from Stan and Gail Richards. For information on LHPDC grant funding, see http://disability.law.uiowa.edu. The authors would like to thank William Myhill and Daniel Kresowik for their editorial assistance.

Abstract

To investigate the inclusion of people with disabilities in the diversity policies of the most successful businesses in the United States, we examined the publicly available workforce and supplier diversity policies of the top 100 companies on Fortune Magazine's 2003 list of the 500 most profitable companies in the nation. The majority of these companies have extensive information about their diversity policies and practices available on their corporate website. The information was used to categorize the policies into those that include people with disabilities, do not define diversity, and enumerate what is meant by diversity (e.g. in terms of race or gender) but do not expressly mention disability. In addition, we looked beyond the diversity policies to information available on corporate websites relating to a variety of diversity initiatives. Findings suggest that the majority of the companies that top the Fortune 500 list have developed and implemented diversity policies. Of these, 42% have diversity policies that include people with disabilities in the definition of a diverse workforce. Furthermore, 47% of companies with workplace diversity policies discuss diversity in a way that neither expressly includes nor excludes people with disabilities. Far fewer (15%) supplier diversity policies include disability in the definition of diversity, but a significant number of companies use criteria that allow a business owner with a disability to benefit from the company's supplier diversity program. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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