By Paula Bernier
Large companies frequently publish reports that outline their diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, and race. Yet LinkedIn is the only U.S. technology giant to include disability in its public diversity reporting, according to a recent TechCrunch article.
The other companies reporter Steve O’Hear approached for his research included Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, Salesforce, Slack, and Twitter. But, he said, most of them declined to discuss disability and employee diversity on the record. However, O’Hear said Slack indicated that it may not be legal to force employees to disclose that they have a disability; so, he wrote, any reporting on this front would have to be non-mandatory and self-identified.
In any case, O’Hear said the disability reporting topic is noteworthy both because persons with a disability are much less likely to be employed than individuals with the same ages and levels of education, and because technology in many ways can level the playing field for folks with disabilities.
To the first point, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that just 17.5 percent of persons with a disability were employed last year compared to 65 percent for those without a disability.
To the second point, and as I’ve reported in the past, many contact centers now actively recruit handicapped people, leveraging new distributed VoIP solutions that enable them to work from home so they don’t need to travel and can stay close to whatever health care resources they might need.
Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of how technology can be used to address the needs of the disabled, and better include the disabled community into the larger community.
Connected medicine is one of the key areas of innovation and investment in the Internet of Things. Heck, there’s even a TV show on CBS about technology as it relates to health care. And while there’s a very big difference between diversity in the workplace in terms of the inclusion of people with disabilities, and offering high-tech medical treatment to these and other individuals, the common thread is that both of the above can be addressed at least in part by employing the right technologies.
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