How businesses can profit from boosting the employment of disabled workers

J.D. was his mentor before he became a Donald Trump-endorsed candidate to the U.S. Senate. J.D. Vance was the author of the book, which — through its portrayal of rural poverty and people left behind in modern America — became the basis for Trump’s rise to power. The author of Hillbilly Elegy relates his experience as a successful venture capitalist and how he was interviewed for top positions at law firms. He didn’t have the same social background of most of his peers and was therefore unnerved that the interview took place at a fancy restaurant. He writes that the interviews were about passing a “social test” — a test to be able to hold your own in a corporate boardroom and make connections with future clients.

This is a story that “Darren” would relate to. It’s a story from Accenture about how people of lower socio-economic backgrounds can struggle to succeed even if they have the right academic qualifications. Darren is now a senior advertising agency in New York. However, he remembers how he struggled to fit into the company early on in his career. To be more like his colleagues, he took elocution lessons and saved money for a smart suit. He also changed his hairstyle. He says, “I wouldn’t be where I am now without those steps.” He now seeks candidates from diverse backgrounds when he hires. However, he feels that while there has been an increase in support for under-represented groups, it has not been as much for those with disadvantaged backgrounds.

Accenture believes that this is a critical issue to address. Not only for individuals, because talent deserves to be promoted even if they don’t know the workplace codes or other obstacles. But also for businesses, because tapping into these groups can increase their diversity of thought. One of the most striking statistics from the report A fair opportunity to advance: The power and culture to break social economic barriers in the workplace, is the finding that only 2 out 5 employees with lower socioeconomic backgrounds feel included at work, and only half feel comfortable sharing their personal information. Employers, on the other hand, are more positive with almost nine out of ten believing that these employees feel included at their workplace.

Another divide is the report which finds that employees with low incomes are less likely than their more privileged counterparts to make advancements in their careers and are more satisfied with their progress. It could be that they have lower expectations. This simply shows the extent of the problem and the negative effect on businesses of having employees who are less successful than their peers. Accenture estimates that 700,000 people from lower socio-economic backgrounds are missing out on promotions. Accenture discovered that businesses that concentrate on social mobility have 1.4 times more profit than those that do not.

Accenture’s Citizenship & Responsible Business lead in the UK & Ireland said that while organizations have made significant progress in tackling issues such as race, gender, and disability, it was often overlooked that individuals’ socio-economic background is a key factor in their success. There was tremendous potential to have an impact, with more than a third coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. There was much research on making recruitment easier, but she and her colleagues felt that it was necessary to do more to ensure that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds succeed and move forward.

This report, which included 1,400 executives and 4,000 employees, highlights the efforts of a variety of organizations to improve things. Research showed that culture was a key factor in how successful organizations made employees feel comfortable and allowed to give their best. Companies with inclusive cultures have more employees with lower socioeconomic backgrounds than those with less inclusive cultures. This is compared to 30% who feel the same chance of success in companies that are less inclusive. Accenture also found that inclusive organizations were more likely to follow five key practices, which it considers a blueprint for socio-economic inclusion.

— Trusting people and allowing them take responsibility

— Being able to identify role models that reflect different backgrounds than the norm

• Establishing clear anti-discrimination policies to ensure that employees are treated fairly and receive fair compensation.

• Giving employees flexibility in how and when they work.

• Being transparent and open with employees so they feel comfortable talking about their pasts and bringing their whole selves to work.

This means that you can implement train initiatives, which, for example, show that not all leaders of an organization come from privileged backgrounds. You can also expand the pool of universities where recruits are taken. Additionally, apprenticeships and other entry options are available. All of these things will improve the recruitment process to better take into account individuals’ personal circumstances.

In the U.S., and in the U.K., leading universities have increased their accessibility to more people. For example, the vice-chancellor at Cambridge University stated earlier this month that private schools should expect fewer students to be admitted to top universities. Although this is a good start, it doesn’t go far enough. The challenge must be taken up by employers as well. It is clear that this will be a win-win situation for employers in terms of business performance. After all, it is widely recognized that a diverse workforce can improve decision making. It is also likely that employee engagement, which is a highly valued aspect of the business, will increase. Even if they’re not treated equally, recruits from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are already more satisfied than those with more privilege. They will be more committed if you treat them better than those with entitlement attitudes.

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