Connie Donnelly, Vice President of Neurodiversity and Business Development for Whil, has been appointed to the Disability Equality Index Advisory Committee with Disability:IN, a leading group working to help businesses achieve disability inclusion and equality.
As an advisory committee member, Donnelly will work with business leaders, policy experts and disability advocates to develop the Disability Equality Index (DEI), a national, transparent benchmarking tool that gives businesses an objective measure of their disability workplace inclusion efforts. In 2020, 247 companies participated in the DEI, representing a total U.S. workforce of 11 million people. The DEI is a joint initiative of Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities.
“Disability:IN is really the gold standard in terms of how companies are evaluated for their diversity and inclusion measures, especially for people with disabilities,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly, who is legally blind, brings personal knowledge of the importance of disability inclusion in the workplace to her role at Whil, where she helps employers better accommodate individuals who are neurodiverse. This category – which includes those with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia and more – doesn’t always come with a diagnosis, meaning the needs of neurodivergent employees can be easily overlooked.
In her work on the advisory committee, Donnelly hopes to raise awareness of how employers can change that.
“Up to 80 percent of disabilities are considered to be invisible, and the majority of those are what we would consider to be neurodiverse conditions,” she said. “I am excited to help this very knowledgeable committee bring awareness to how the DEI can better evaluate employers on what they are doing to support a neurodiverse population.”
Rethink provides evidence-based training tools and 24/7 virtual consultations for caregivers and managers who support neurodiverse individuals. As a corporate partner of Disability:IN, Rethink wholeheartedly supports the nonprofit’s vision of an inclusive global economy where people with disabilities participate fully and meaningfully. Whil Senior Vice President Mike Civello has joined CEOs from all over the world in signing Disability:IN’s “Are you IN?” pledge to support disability inclusion standards.
“We still have more work to do in helping employers to understand that disability inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do; it really boosts their bottom line,” Donnelly said. “The more diverse a workforce is, the better it will be at problem-solving and innovation. By fostering a culture of inclusion, companies will see higher retention, higher productivity and higher morale.”
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