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State Senator

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Sen. Kennedy Announces CT's Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion

Top scorers include Aetna, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cigna, Synchrony Financial, The Hartford, United Technologies, & Voya

State Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) today announced that several Connecticut companies have received top scores in the 2018 Disability Equality Index (DEI), America’s leading corporate benchmarking tool that evaluates inclusion and equality for people with disabilities. This is the fourth year that this list has been compiled by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN).

145 companies participated in the 2018 DEI, with results indicating where companies are excelling in their commitment to inclusive social and governance policies. Among the top scorers were Connecticut companies Aetna, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Cigna, Synchrony Financial, The Hartford, United Technologies Corporation (UTC), and Voya Financial.

“Year after year I challenge employers in Connecticut to do a better job of integrating people with disabilities into their workforce, and once again I am thrilled to see so many Connecticut companies are doing just that,” said Sen. Kennedy, who is a lifelong advocate for people with disabilities and Board Chair of the AAPD. “The disability community has the experience, talent, dedication and knowledge that’s an asset for any employer. I want to congratulate each and every one of the 2018 DEI winners, especially those here in my home state of Connecticut, and I want them to serve as an example for other companies in Connecticut and across America of the great things we can accomplish when we work together.”

Sen. Kennedy will be honoring the 145 businesses on July 11th at the USBLN Annual Conference in Las Vegas. The recognition of being a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” is reserved for those companies that have scored 80 or above on the DEI; the full list can be found at: https://disabilityequalityindex.org/top_companies

The DEI is a joint initiative between American Association of People with Disabilities and the US Business Leadership Network, jointly designed by disability advocates and business leaders as the nation’s most trusted comprehensive benchmarking tool for disability inclusion. The Index measures key performance indicators across organizational culture, leadership, accessibility, employment, community engagement, support services and supplier diversity.

In its fourth year, the DEI has experienced nearly a 32% increase in year-over-year participation, signaling disability inclusion is on the rise across industries. 70% of businesses participating in the 2017 DEI chose to also participate in 2018, utilizing the tool as multi-year benchmarking roadmap.

“AAPD is thrilled to see increased participation in this year’s DEI. The commitment to disability inclusion is a priority for many corporations,” said Helena Berger, President and CEO of AAPD. “While we have made great strides since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the number of disabled individuals getting hired has not significantly increased. The DEI was created to help advance employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities.”

“We applaud those companies that choose to take the DEI year after year and truly commit to advancing disability inclusion,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of USBLN. “Although we are far from true inclusion of people with disabilities across the enterprise, the DEI signals corporate America is recognizing inclusion as a competitive edge and beneficial for all.” “Creating an inclusive work environment isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s good business,” said Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna chairman and CEO. “Attracting and retaining individuals with disabilities is a priority for Aetna because it enhances the diversity of thought within our organization and increases the empathy we have for our members. We will continue to develop a culture that embraces the different abilities among all of our employees – including those with ‘invisible disabilities’ like mental health issues – and celebrates the ingenuity, adaptability, and courage that they demonstrate every day.”

“We are proud of our diverse and inclusive culture, and work hard to be an employer of choice for people with all abilities,” said Mark Boxer, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Information Officer at Cigna. “For Cigna it begins with the attitudes of our leaders, who appreciate the valuable skills and competencies of these individuals bring to our global workforce. Our people are actively engaged through our employee-based People with Different Abilities Colleague Resource Group. This group of employees serve to make Cigna a welcoming place that effectively supports all our employees, and provide a crucial sounding board and work group to help us improve the health and productivity of our clients and customers.”

“We are honored to be recognized again for disability equality by the American Association for People with Disabilities,” said The Hartford’s Chief Talent Officer, Tom Warters. “At The Hartford, we firmly believe in what we call our Ability Philosophy, which focuses on what a person can do versus any perceived limitations. We work every day to build a more inclusive culture that supports this philosophy and embraces the wide range of skills and experiences of our workforce to better serve our customers. We value the unique characteristics and perspectives and energy that each employee brings to our team.”

“Synchrony fosters a culture of diversity and inclusion through our seven diversity networks. We are committed to empowering our employees to bring their authentic selves to work every day – to better serve our partners and customers,” said Marissa Lara, Chief Diversity and Corporate Responsibility Officer at Synchrony Financial in Stamford. “Being honored as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion is a great milestone for our company and the commitment we have toward our employees.”

“United Technologies is pleased to be honored as a best place to work for disability inclusion,” said Gail Jackson, Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion at United Technologies Corporation. “We believe that tapping into the abilities of every member of our workforce, including those with disabilities, makes us better. It encourages innovation, improved team performance, and quality customer service that will only serve to enhance our position in the marketplace. Our Employee Resource Groups focused on persons with disabilities and their allies creates a sense of community and helps us to understand how we can continue to advance disability inclusion every day.” “We’re honored to be among the Connecticut companies included in the 2018 DEI, and to be recognized for our efforts to support Americans with disabilities, as well as their families and caregivers,” said Voya Financial Chairman and CEO Rodney O. Martin, Jr. “Voya’s inclusion in this index validates our efforts to make a real difference in the lives of our employees and customers living with disabilities – both here in Connecticut and across the country.”

The DEI serves as the nation’s most trusted annual benchmarking tool allowing America’s leading corporations to self-report their disability policies and practices. This evolving tool scores each corporation on a scale from 0 to 100, with top scorers (80 and above) recognized as “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion.”

The aggregate results and efforts of participating DEI businesses highlights key industry trends as well as areas for improvement:

  • 94% of DEI companies reported having a senior executive (within the first two levels reporting to CEO) who is internally known as being a person with a disability and/or as an ally for people with disabilities.
  • 72% of DEI companies had expenditures with certified disability-owned businesses and/or certified service-disabled veteran-owned businesses in 2018.
  • Only 55% of DEI businesses have a company-wide external and internal commitment to digital accessibility.
  • Only 44% of 2018 DEI companies make all job interview candidates aware of the option to request an accommodation(s) for the interview.
  • Just 34% of DEI businesses have a public smart-phone app that is audited for accessibility.

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