Adobe study: Employers making progress supporting employees with disabilities but must make it a priority to recruit and retain
Image source: Prostock-studio.
People living with a disability constitute the largest minority community in the world, representing 15 percent of the global population — one billion people — according to the United Nations. In the United States alone, 61 million people are part of this community, yet countries and companies across the globe have struggled to connect people living with disabilities to employment opportunities.
Still, there are reasons for optimism on the horizon, as organizations make accessibility and disability inclusion efforts a priority, and as the digital transformation creates new opportunities for empowering people with disabilities. At Adobe, we set out to gain a deeper understanding of how work environments have changed since the pandemic and how accessibility and inclusivity have evolved with these new ways of working.
Today, we’re releasing the results of a new survey of 1,000 full-time workers, part-time workers, and students based in the U.S. — including respondents with and without disabilities. Findings include:
Community feels supported by employers
- Encouragingly, more than three quarters of respondents living with a disability say their workplace has done a better job supporting them since the onset of the pandemic (77 percent) and similar numbers say their coworkers are mindful of their unique needs in their interactions.
- Progress is being made, but there is room for improvement. Nearly 70 percent of respondents with disabilities feel their organization provides adequate training around disability etiquette education.
Workplace accessibility can benefit all
- Among the general population, regardless of disability status, 84 percent feel that their coworkers would benefit from workplace accessibility and 77 percent report being interested in learning more about supporting accessibility in the workplace, including topics like mental health, wellness, and tips for working with different learning styles. Meanwhile, among respondents without a disability, 84 percent, say they consider the needs of their coworkers with disabilities at least sometimes.
Inclusion and awareness helps recruit and retain employees
Among our findings is that supporting disability inclusion not only benefits businesses’ bottom line, but also helps with recruitment and retention efforts. This is something that businesses have been struggling with during the “Great Resignation” as Americans quit their jobs at record rates.
- As members of the disability community navigate their own career journeys, nearly three in four say that accessibility and inclusivity benefits are a deciding factor in evaluating a job opportunity. This proved especially true for millennials, with 80 percent saying these benefits are a key decision point.
- Mental health is another area that people with disabilities look at when evaluating employment opportunities, with 73 percent of people with disabilities identifying mental health as a significant concern, compared to 33 percent of the general population. More than a third of respondents living with disabilities report that they’ve benefitted from a heightened focus on mental health awareness due to the pandemic such as increased attention to emotional and psychological safety including well-being support.
Leveling the playing field
- Nearly seven in ten respondents agreed that work is easier during the pandemic due to shifts in settings and expectations. It’s not surprising, therefore, that across the general population many look first at an organization’s home/hybrid office environment policy when evaluating a work opportunity (46 percent). This was even more pronounced in the disability community, where 58 percent of respondents listed home/hybrid setup as their top preference.
Among the general population more than six in ten workers say they prefer working from home because it allows them to work more comfortably (62 percent). Meanwhile, more than half say they appreciate the flexibility in working hours (54 percent) and not having a commute (53 percent). Roughly a quarter of the general population say they prefer working in an office environment (26 percent) compared with roughly a fifth of people living with a disability (20 percent).
It’s clear that the shift to home and hybrid work environments has fundamentally changed how people view the workday and productivity. For people with disabilities, this flexibility hasn’t just made their lives easier, it’s significantly enhanced how they’re able to get work done — the option for flexible work arrangements is quickly becoming a must-have for those planning their career journey.
Keeping the focus on inclusive culture
With many industries looking to return to “normal,” communities and companies must keep inclusivity and the disability community at the heart of planning and policies. Using this past year as a learning experience helps us better understand our colleagues and communities and can further enrich all our workplaces and daily lives.
At Adobe, we strongly believe that everyone deserves respect, equal treatment, and opportunity, and that we must actively work to build diverse and inclusive workplaces and communities. The needs of the disability community should not be an aspiration but rather help lead us on the pathway to inclusive recovery.