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Return on Disability Research

Insights that measure value

What gets measured, get done. This central premise drives The Return on Disability Group to create new data and insights at both the economy level and  the organizational level.  This research is intended to provide managers  and policy makers  with the information and strategy models to make decisions based on economic value. With six years of data collection - and over 210,000 data points - we provide our clients with independent observation-based insights that lowers the risk of decision making. These insights shed sunlight on opportunities that were simply not on the radar or have recently developed due to the maturing market of PWD.

We do not focus  on 'why' - as that is yesterday's question.  Our clients are asking us 'how'. They demand a plan. They demand quantified objectives. They demand a picture of the finish line.

The Return on Disability Group analyzed the largest 763 publically traded U.S> companies, analyzing each of them on disability with respect to corporate profitability using the Return on Disability® (RoD) Model. 

U.S. companies that do disability well reward shareholders for buying their stock. For the third consecutive year, The Return on Disability Group has analyzed the largest 763 publicly traded U.S. companies, independently assessing each with regards to how disability impacts corporate profitability.

We accomplished this with the help of the Return on Disability (RoD) Model, a proprietary tool that measures firm activities relative to PWD that create shareholder value. The RoD Model covers 30 publicly observable data points, each of which is weighted to reflect its relative importance in creating value for the specific individual firm. The output is a single number—the RoD Result.

The most striking part of the analysis of the 763 firms is that 546 companies do not register a result at all. This is because there is no publicly observable activity in relation to disability. Exhibit 4 displays the aggregate analysis of the top 100 of the 217 companies that do register a result. A result of 0 is low, while 5 is high. The data shows that, even amongst the top 100 companies, there is significant room for increased value creation and enhanced competitive advantage.

One interesting observation is that the level of activity in the ‘Customer’ category now outpaces activity in the ‘Talent’ category, proving that active companies are now focusing on PWD as consumers as much as employees. This contradicts the mainstream conversation that companies are overwhelmingly focused on recruiting talented PWD and indicates a disconnect between message, action and result.

The top 25 companies are clustered tightly around a result of 2.5. This sets a short term benchmark for company activity relative to PWD while providing ample room to gain competitive advantage in the PWD marketplace. It is clear that improving results would not require much effort, especially for the 546 companies that do not register a result at all. Given the size of the PWD market and the low level of initial investment required to be in the top 100, our view is that competition drives these results higher.

An analysis of the largest 284 publicly traded companies in Canada demonstrates that 27%  show any kind of business-related mention of disability. Exhibit 5 is a corollary of best practices currently being employed by large companies in Canada as evidenced by their websites, marketing materials and in conversation with their agents. As with U.S. firms, our experience shows that these efforts are rarely backed up by strategy, process or budget. Of the 284 firms we analyzed, 3% have meaningful external representation of interest in PWD as measured by expressions of intent and in publicly observable efforts to back up stated intent vis-à-vis disability.

This research is based on publicly observable efforts in company materials, retail audits and 10 years of observation. As mentioned in the previous section on the U.S., if a firm does not ‘talk’ about what they do, it does not exist. With Canadian firms especially, we note that activity in Canada is primarily driven by regulation rather than by the business case.   

Observations reveal a remarkable focus on legal compliance in Canada thanks to national and provincial laws that cover employment and customer service practices. The culture of diversity is also less developed in Canada than in the United States. This is due in part to the smaller size of consumer markets and the perception amongst most individuals that disability is a niche market.

Activity on the Web is higher in Canada. Both visible activity that caters to PWD and the number of dedicated sites for PWD are greater than in the United States. It is also clear from the language and from the dearth of visual appeal in these sites that this activity is driven by compliance. The biggest challenge for Canadian companies is to avoid the ‘compliance trap’, in that mere compliance will not lead to outstanding business results