Market participants and regulators are taking more interest in diversity on corporate boards. Last year, Nasdaq introduced board diversity disclosure requirements. While these requirements require disclosure of factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, disability representation is often left out. Recently Ted Kennedy Jr. authored a piece on Directors & Boards which advocated for more focus on disability diversity on corporate boards.
Kennedy, who himself lost a leg to pediatric bone cancer and serves on two corporate boards, makes the case that disability diversity is being overlooked to the detriment of business benefits:
“People with disabilities are still nearly invisible on corporate boards and in the C-suite. Around the world, disability lags behind gender and ethnicity in board diversity considerations. In the 2023 Disability Equality Index, a benchmark survey for disability inclusion, just 7% of 485 participating companies reported having a board member with a disability, making it difficult to track representation.
People with disabilities bring a unique set of life-learned skills and perspectives that help boards make better decisions, which benefits both companies and their shareholders. Accenture found that when companies champion disability in the workplace, they report 28% higher revenue, 30% higher profit margin and superior shareholder returns.”
Diversity in the workplace can lead to great business outcomes and dedication to fostering an inclusive workplace starts at the top. Kennedy believes that companies should modernize their board nomination processes to consider disability alongside other diversity characteristics. Diversity at the board level can trickle down into a companies culture and provide value at an enterprise wide level.