In a move of continued commitment to building a more inclusive and accessible industry for people with disabilities, Sony Interactive CEO Jim Ryan has joined Disability:IN’s “Are you IN?” campaign. This week saw the publication of the “CEO Letter on Disability Inclusion,” created by a coalition of CEOs advocating for disability equality in business. The letter is a call to action for other CEOs, companies, investors, and business professionals to join the cause and raise awareness.
“Understanding that we are all operating in an unprecedented environment with multiple, competing interests for the time and attention of the CEO, we are writing to you – from a CEO to CEO perspective – to ask for your much-needed help in advancing equality and inclusion at a time when the need to make sure that no one is marginalized has never been more important,” begins the letter. It goes on to request three concrete steps toward forming a more equitable industry:
1. Request your consideration to participate in the Disability Equality Index (DEI), the leading corporate benchmarking tool for disability equality, which is administered by the non-profit organizations, American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN;
2. Share important information on disability inclusion that details its impact on business performance; and
3. Ensure that you’re aware of increasing investor interest in understanding how companies are inclusive of people with disabilities.
The letter goes on to state that the CEOs of these companies have experienced within their own companies the potential for innovation, sustainability, and profit resulting from disability inclusion. It specifies that hiring just 1% of untapped talent with disabilities would “boost the American GDP by up to $25 billion.” Additionally, the letter states research has shown that leading disability-inclusive companies gain as much as 28% higher revenue, which is double the net income and 30% higher economic profit margins than their peers. With over one billion people across the globe having a disability, the coalition sees it as imperative to continue “hiring inclusively, contracting with disability-owned business enterprises, and creating accessible tools and technology for all.”
“We do this because it’s the right thing to do and it makes good business sense,” the letter says. “It is important to us, now more than ever, to drive companies aligned with corporate values and meaningful purpose. Without disability inclusion, we will fail to build sustainable futures that empower all.”
Among the CEOs in adjacent industries who have signed the letter are Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy; and Bob Swan, CEO of Intel Corporation.
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Formerly known as the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN), Disability:IN is the leading nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide. Its network encompasses over 250 corporations taking part in the mission of creating “an inclusive global economy where people with disabilities participate fully and meaningfully.” The non-profit has ties to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. While progress has been made since then, a study conducted by the Center for Research on Disability in June 2019 reported that people with disabilities sat an employment-to-population ratio of 31.0%. In comparison, people without disabilities sat at an employment-to-population ratio of 74.9%. The study found that, while most companies have a diversity goal, disability is not explicitly included in that definition.
Accessibility is a quickly increasingly important topic in the video games industry, especially when considering that about 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. The Game Awards introduced the “Innovation in Accessibility Award” last year, which is dedicated to “recognizing software and/or hardware that is pushing the medium forward by adding features, technology, and content to help games be played and enjoyed by an even wider audience.” The Last of Us Part II, developed by SIE subsidiary game developer Naughty Dog, won the award. It’s a feat that wouldn’t have been possible with all the incredible accessibility consultants who worked on the game, which you can learn more about over at “Can I Play That?” It is the leading games journalism publication in analyzing video games through a variety of accessibility lenses.
In 2018, Microsoft released the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which is designed to help make user input more accessible for people with disabilities. Brannon Zahand, the Senior Gaming Accessibility Program Manager for Xbox, announced earlier this week that Xbox consoles now have a specific subcategory for problems and feedback related to the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
SIE’s press release on the news puts it succinctly: “While our partnership with Disability:IN is an important milestone along the journey towards inclusion for all, we recognize there is significant work ahead as we strive for a future where everyone shares the moment, overcoming the limitations of age, physical conditions, and environment.”