Disabilities in the Workplace Research

Goals

To understand the following things surrounding disability in the workplace:
  • Identify biases when somebody discloses their disability in their workplace.
  • Identify the common biases people encounter when discussing this topic at the workplace.
  • Identify companies that have a process in place for evaluation, for promotion, for recruiting to better integrate people with disabilities at work.
  • Disabilities to consider are Asperger Syndrome [Autism], dyslexia, dyspraxia, and Down Syndrome.
  • General information surrounding how companies can evaluate and promote people with disabilities in the mid-term (2-3 years).
  • Ideally to have key points for each topic without diving too much in the details, and to have the original source to do a deep dive separately.

Early Findings

Data Availability

  • The initial round of research indicates that publicly available information surrounding biases when somebody discloses their disability in their workplace, common biases people encounter when discussing this topic at the workplace, companies that have a process in place for evaluation, for promotion, for recruiting to better integrate people with disabilities at work, and general information surrounding how companies can evaluate and promote people with disabilities is adequate.

Why People Hide Their Disabilities at Work

  • In this 2019 Harvard Business Review source, just 39% of employees with disabilities have disclosed to this their manager.
  • "Professionals with disabilities have multiple reasons for hiding this from their employers: They fear teasing or harassment. They worry their relationships with coworkers will change. Many express concerns that their manager might see them as lazy or less capable, and that their career progress will stall as a result."
  • Not all disabilities can be seen, making it even tougher for employees to decide to disclose something like dyslexia, which is not obviously visible, the way a being in a wheelchair would be.
  • Sixty-two percent reported that their disability is invisible, agreeing with the statement, “unless I tell them, people do not know that I have a disability.” Invisible disabilities include depression and other mental health conditions, ADHD, and diabetes, among many others.

Common Biases

  • In the Disabilities and Inclusion report completed by Coqual, "employees with disabilities frequently face discrimination. More than a third of respondents with disabilities (34%) say they have experienced discrimination or bias while working at their current companies."
  • People with disabilities say, that in the workplace, they feel excluded. Forty-two percent report feeling misjudged, 31% percent reported being insulted, 20% revealed that coworkers avoided them, and 14% felt discomfort.

Companies that Embrace Employees with Disabilities

  • According to this source, IBM, Southstar Drug, Procter & Gamble, and Aetna are four companies that hire disabled adults, and further, help them succeed on the job. After vetting each company named, we can concur that they do have programs in place for this. Links to that information can be accessed by clicking on each company name.
  • This source lists companies that are disability friendly.

Summary

  • Our initial hour of research focused on ensuring that the research question could be answered using publicly available sources and then providing salient and relevant data surrounding why people hide their disabilities at work, some common biases seen, and then lists of companies that embrace employees with disabilities.
  • As we only have one hour for the initial findings, we could not provide in-depth information for companies that have a process in place for evaluation, for promotion, for recruiting to better integrate people with disabilities at work, as well as data digging into the hiring practices of companies surrounding disabilities such as Asperger Syndrome [Autism], dyslexia, dyspraxia, and Down Syndrome. There was not enough time to provide information surrounding how companies can evaluate and promote people with disabilities. However, we are confident that information in the public domain can provide insights surrounding all of these topics, should further research be desired.
  • We were not provided a geographic focus for this project, so we assumed a broad approach and looked globally. If a more targeted approach is desired, for example, the United States, this would have to be clearly communicated to us in any reply within each appropriate scoping box.
  • As a reminder, Wonder only uses publicly available sources to answer all research questions. We do not do primary research, and we do not have access to paid databases or paywalled reports, but we can cite them in research for reference only [in case purchase is desired]. If that is of interest, that would clearly have to be communicated to us in any reply.
  • It is of note that while the initial hour of research does not allow us to embed graphics and other visuals, we can certainly do that for any subsequent research projects that are selected. This will enable us to provide visual examples/graphs/charts to add color and depth to the research.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.

Research proposal:

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