A Better Bottom Line For Businesses Employing The Differently Abled

Kristin Mestre

Just like Disney’s “It’s a Small World After All,” the evolution of diversity in the workplace is vibrant in color, rich in its uniqueness of landscapes, languages, and people. Yes, the catchy, repetitive song that has annoyed parents, captivated children, and put a big smile on my cousin’s (who just so happens to be autistic) face does have validity. Technology is connecting and bringing the global workplace together, and, now more than ever, building an inclusive culture is becoming more critical to fostering a truly diverse workplace.

According to Gartner research, highly inclusive organizations generate 2.3x more cash flow per employee, 1.4x more revenue, and are 120% more capable of meeting financial targets. It is evident that the future of work is a world where companies embrace and cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment. So why are most companies falling short with the disabled population in their diversity initiatives?

In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only 17.5% of people with a disability were employed. There is a benefit of having a diverse workforce that is inclusive of people with disabilities; this results in lower turnover, increased productivity, and access to a larger pool of skilled workers. Despite these discouraging statistics, there are bright rays of hope with companies like SAP, Cisco Systems, IBM, and Ernest & Young, who are standing up for people with disabilities and emphasizing support for employment programs as a part of their diversity and inclusion initiatives.

I am proud that SAP is dedicated to eliminating bias in the workplace by truly valuing everyone’s unique contribution, rather than a person’s perceived limitations. It is programs like SAP’s Autism at Work and nonprofits that support adults with developmental disabilities, like the WOW Center, that have fueled and invigorated my purpose and passion to help my cousin and his friends who are differently abled.

My inspiration drove me to host a casino night fundraiser June 2 to not only raise funds, but help elevate awareness of the differently abled community and connect local businesses to the WOW Center for internship and employment opportunities. The event attracted businesses like Discovery Channel, Norwegian Cruise Lines, SAP, Marriott International, AT&T, and more. Achieving the goal of employing more of the differently abled population is in sight.

Be a catalyst for change in creating an inclusive and diverse work environment. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it is and will continue to be a critical initiative for businesses to thrive in these times of revitalizing technological and societal changes.

Diversity fuels our innovation, enhances our engagement with both customers and employees, and helps drive business success in this rapidly changing, digital world. Learn more about SAP’s Diversity and Inclusion initaitives.

Kristin Mestre

About Kristin Mestre

Kristin is a millennial marketer with 8+ years experience in high-tech and who currently leads the customer reference strategy and execution for SAP Ariba's buyer and supplier customers.