By Caroline Casey
In a world of data and statistics, vast amounts of insights are readily available at our fingertips – from financial figures to sustainability progress to demographics of employees. With this data comes a new type of power. Data tells stories – it offers insights which can inform decisions and change business behaviour – and it can invite comm The decisions made around the data which is collected and distributed – and that which is not – can be incredibly revealing of the mindsets and priorities of the business community.
Over the past few years, business leaders have faced growing scrutiny over social responsibility and dedication to purpose. Recent data from Ipsos Mori shows that two-thirds (68%) of people think business leaders have a responsibility to speak out on social and political issues affecting the UK, rising from 62% in 2019. It doesn’t stop there – 72% of Britons are looking to buy from brands that reflect their personal values, up from 56% in 2019.
In light of this, there is great appetite for transparency and insights on how businesses are holding up in these areas. Diversity and inclusion is a fundamental part of this discussion – and so indices exploring this naturally draw much attention and interest.
From the FT Diversity Leaders Index and Tortoise’s Responsibility 100 Index to Refinitiv’s Diversity and Inclusion Index and Forbes’ Best Employers, and all the companies in between who produce their own – there are a range of reports to choose from, and each of these provide incredibly valuable insights.
The metrics which their authors choose to include dictate what is tracked, what is valued and what is made visible. What areas of progress and learning business leaders wish to see are the areas in which is it laudable to be seen as excelling and leading the way in.
When it comes to diversity and inclusion indices, sustainability and responsible business indices – disability inclusion can often fall to the wayside, and is often excluded as a critical metric. Some do include it, but not all, and those that don’t are not inclusive. After all, how can we manage and be held accountable for delivering progress on something which is not measured?
Disability inclusion within business does not operate in isolation. It plays a key role in talent, diversity of thought, productivity and in achieving the sustainable development goals. Excluding disability from indices and failing to rank businesses on their performance in this area can only fail to show the full picture.
Furthermore, ensuring people with disabilities are included in such business indices is incredibly important for making sure the disability community – making up 15% of the population globally – feels visible, heard and valued. This is a community which brings great potential, from talent to innovative processes of thought, and they are owed that recognition.
It’s also really important that including and measuring disability does not become a one-dimensional tickbox exercise. While understanding the representation and proportions of the workforce is part of measuring disability inclusion, the complexities and sensitivities of understanding how different individuals may self-identify when it comes to disability need to be considered. How people with disabilities experience the workplace and working practices should also come into this.
Microsoft’s newly released report shows that 6.1% of the company’s U.S. employees identify as disabled. This is the first time ever that the company has included disability in their annual diversity and inclusion report – a great example of a company learning and evolving. It is imperative more businesses follow in their footsteps. We cannot expect companies to get everything right the first time – but we must ask of them a willingness to try, and a willingness to listen and learn in that process.
Originally posted on Forbes