Boeing makes disability inclusion a focus for leadership

May 16, 2019 in Community

The Valuable 500

Earlier today, at the Bloomberg Equality Summit in London, Boeing leaders made their commitment to disability inclusion by joining The Valuable 500, a global campaign that strives to place disability at the top of business agendas. Boeing joins members such as Microsoft, Unilever and Accenture.

Launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, the aim of Valuable 500 is to put disability on the leadership agenda of at least 500 large, multinational enterprises. The campaign recognizes that when businesses take the lead and take action, society will follow, and aims to challenge businesses that claim to be diverse, yet exclude workers with disabilities from their definition of diversity.

“To achieve our bold goals and aspiration, we must attract, retain and engage an incredibly diverse talent pipeline that includes individuals with disabilities,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and CEO. “We benefit from their talents, experiences and perspectives, which make us better. Boeing is committed to disability inclusion as part of our broader diversity and inclusion strategy that helps drive innovation throughout the company.”

According to Valuable 500, more than one billion people — 15 percent of the world’s population — have some form of disability, but businesses regularly ignore their value. The number of people with a disability has a potential market equivalent the size of the U.S., Pakistan, Indonesia and Brazil combined, but the global employment rate for individuals with disabilities is half that of those without disabilities.

“Boeing is on a journey to raise disability awareness and reshape conceptions of ability,” said Sara Bowen, vice president of Global Diversity & Inclusion. “This is another step toward creating an environment where talented people of all abilities can be valued and do their best work.”

Boeing’s commitment to an accessible culture is illustrated through ongoing investment in professional networks, the internal Boeing Employee Ability Awareness Association business resource group, educational resources, a centralized accommodations unit, and accessible work spaces.

The company has been highlighted for these efforts externally. For example:

  • Late last year, for the third year in a row, Boeing achieved a top score of 100% on the Disability Equality Index, a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN.
  • In September Boeing was recognized as a 2018 National Organization on Disability Leading Disability Employer.
  • Last week, Boeing ranked No. 9 on DiversityInc’s list of top companies for people with disabilities.

How Boeing compares to others

The National Organization on Disability (NOD) administers a yearly Disability Employment Tracker, a confidential, corporate self-assessment that allows employers to benchmark their disability inclusion practices against other leading companies. Employers receive a scorecard measuring their efforts in six inclusion aspects: climate and culture; talent sourcing; people practices; workplace and technology; strategy and metrics; and veteran employment. This year Boeing outperformed the benchmark in every category. The company’s leading practices included:

  • Reviewing and tracking success metrics such as proportion of applicants with disabilities hired, and percentage of managers with disabilities.
  • Forging partnerships with external organizations, employment agencies and educational institutions, to attract candidates with disabilities.
  • Having a defined accommodation policy to ensure prompt responses to employee requests.

Still, there is room to grow. And with Jenette Ramos, senior vice president of Manufacturing, Supply Chain & Operations at Boeing, on the executive board of NOD, Bowen said Boeing will continue to work with NOD to challenge the status quo and break down barriers.