Managing Director within the Accenture Research organization
March 26, 2019 - 3:00pm

Joyce welcomes Laurie Henneborn a managing director within the Accenture Research organization. She has operational responsibility for the global teams dedicated to supporting the research and thought leadership needs of the Digital, Technology and Operations Businesses and their related initiatives. This includes managing program budgets and related third-party content subscriptions. Laurie's research capabilities include market research and competitor intelligence, thought leadership creation, project and program management, strategic complex research and team strategy/leadership. In addition to this multidisciplinary role, Laurie passionately co-leads the global Accenture Research team’s initiatives focused on Disability Inclusion. She will explain in-depth her duties during the show.

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Disability Matters

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>> Welcome to "Disability Matters" with Joyce Bender.  All views and opinions are solely those of the host, guest, and callers.  Now the host of "Disability Matters," here's Joyce Bender. 

>> Joyce bender:  Hi, everyone.  Welcome to the show hope you are having a great day.  A special shout out to Yoshiko, Yoshiko Dart, I hope you're leading on.  I know you are.  And, yes, once again, Ireland.  Of the 17 countries that listen to this show, once again Ireland leads the way.  As I've said, you must have incredible disability advocates and you just keep it on.  Thank you so much and thank you to all the other countries that listen to the show. 
       So before we get going here, tonight is the Mardi Gras in Pittsburgh for the epilepsy association.  And tonight the president of Highmark, Deb Rice Johnson will be the king of the Mardi Gras.  Congratulations, you know everyone.  I'm living with epilepsy.  Actually I'm the chair of the local affiliate and if anyone deserves this, it is Deb Rice Johnson. 
    .  Highmark at Highmark.  Guess what?  Highmark has been the lead sponsor of this radio show for three years.  And our other sponsor, the first part of the year is AudioEye, a great software developer web tool product.  Their web tool which is all about accessibility is phenomenal.  I mean, they are just a phenomenal product. 
       But, anyway, thank you, Highmark.  Thank you, AudioEye.  And now the moment we've been waiting for. 
       Laurie Henneborn.  You probably read her blog on LinkedIn.  But I know everyone has been hearing about the great study that came out from the work at Accenture. 
       And Laurie is the research managing director, and it is so exciting and our pleasure to have her on the show today.  Laurie, welcome to the show. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  Thank you so much.  I'm thrilled to be here.  So thank you. 

>> Joyce bender:  So I thought we would begin, Laurie, for all of our listeners if you would not mind telling everyone about your role at Accenture and about Accenture, such a great company but really large company.  So why don't we start with you first telling us what you do. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  Happy to, Joyce.  Thank you again for having me.  So, everyone, I sit in the global extensive research organization of Accenture.  We're a leading global professional services company with a lot of employees.  Roughly 460,000 around the globe.  We employ nearly 3100 in 21 countries.  On this team we have thought leadership professionals.  We have economists and data scientists.  This is a team really focused on developing data‑driven research and market research and subject matter expertise to client teams, our business, and our external thought leadership of which this study was absolutely a part. 
       I started with this team around 20 years ago as a research I'm a director for leading the global research teams aligned to, in particular, our digital, technology, and operations businesses.  But throughout the past year or so, Joyce, I have also been taking more of a lead role in disability inclusion research and thought leadership working closely with our global inclusion and diversity organization and persons with disabilities program sponsor, that's Chad, along with Dan Ellerman. 

>> Hi, Joyce, hi Laurie.  Joyce, thanks again for having us on your program today.  My name is Dan.  Ellerman.  I lead the disabilities for Accenture.  I work on policies and programming and efforts around disability inclusion, again, trying to ensure that our over 460 some thousand employees in 120 countries are included and have the tools and resources they need to be successful at their jobs.  So thanks again. 

>> Joyce bender:  Is that it, Dan?  You're not going to tell everyone you're the king of Accenture. 


>> Dan Ellerman:  I try to be humble every now and then.  I will tell everyone that I have known Joyce for over ten years now, I think.  And it's just amazing to be working and sometimes mentioned in the same breath as a disability inclusion rights leader as Joyce.  I do definitely appreciate and sometimes am in awe of the people that I get to work with and partner on a regular basis.  So thank you for your leadership, Joyce. 

>> Joyce bender:  The feeling is mutual.  If you go to the Disability:IN conference, which everyone should.  It's in Chicago in July this year.  Good luck if you can find someone that doesn't know who Dan Ellerman is.  He was with Northrop Grumman.  He has been on a crusade since I've known him for employment for people with disabilities.  See, Laurie, I told you, king of Accenture. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  That's it. 


>> Joyce bender:  Well, it is true that disability inclusion is so key at Accenture.  Really just a part of the fabric of the organization.  Could you provide us with some examples such as in accessibility, recruitment and each the work you do in supplier diversity? 

>> Dan Ellerman:  Sure, Joyce.  I'll take this question real quick.  So Accenture has an overall mission of being the most diverse and inclusive organization on the planet.  A major component of that is showing we're including employees of all abilities.  We have so much going on.  I know we talk a lot.  I was trying to think about three of the most prominent examples that we have right now that's going on. 
       The first one I'll say really starts with our accessibility journey where we have evaluated the overall inclusiveness of our workplaces and our digital resources.  We have put into place an aggressive plan.  We're making great progress on getting to as accessible as possible. 
       So an example of that is last year we launched our Accenture workplace accessibility standards so that we have a common standard that we look for when we are leasing, buying, renting, or remodeling a facility or a workplace or workspace.  The standard is really focused on inclusion and not just compliance.  We definitely had the employee at the heart of the experience.  That's where we're really focused on is that employee experience. 
       The second area I think I would highlight is really around ‑‑ it stems from our accessibility journey as well.  So our employees, like most companies, use a variety of web‑based tools to do their job.  Anything from data entry and engineering and software tools.  Many of these tools are vendor procured items.  In order to get the most successful tools we possibly can, we updated our supplier code of conduct, our requests for information, our requests for proposal language to include disability compliance.  We site WCAG 2.1 standards in the contract documents. 
       Lastly, from a recruiting perspective, first I want to plug Disability:IN and the next gen mentoring program.  This will be Accenture's second year in participating in this that program.  Last year we had a number of our employees participate as mentors.  This year we're doing the same.  And we actually were able to make a hire out of one of those relationships.  So I tell Irene he's a finance analyst down in our office in Dallas.  He happens to be an individual with a visual impairment.  But we met him at the conference last year.  Our recruiters loved him and so did our hiring managers and we were able to get him on board. 
       I'm expecting to see better results this year and hopefully more hires.  Actually I just got my mentee in this the program.  I'm looking for another good year in the mentoring program. 
       But across the globe, we have a local of diversity programs we work with, local organizations to bring in interns, contract employees and converted many of those to full‑time hires.  Like in U.S. the best buddies.  In Ireland which you spoke of earlier being one of our highest listening audiences and in Canada we partner with specialist and as I am and we partner with others on a global scale. 

>> Joyce bender:  That is awesome.  I know you do so much.  As I said, I know you have passion for all of this, Dan.  You know what?  You have quite a connection with Ireland, don't you? 

>> Dan Ellerman:  Yeah.  Many people don't realize that Accenture is headquartered out of Dublin, Ireland.  So we are actually an Irish company. 

>> Joyce bender:  Now we know why we have this big audience in Ireland, huh? 

>> Dan Ellerman:  That's a good possibility.  We'll have to check that out. 

>> Joyce bender:  Yeah.  Well, Dan, you know, keep up all the great things that you are doing because a company like Accenture, the decisions you make have such an impact on so many people. 
       Laurie, you are one of those people.  I wanted you to talk to our listeners about why you became involved in reference to your disability. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  So you just let the cat out of the bag.  So beyond the background that I shared earlier, I also do identify as a person with disability, which I really only disclosed about a year ago within Accenture.  Even more broadly, just a few weeks ago through a LinkedIn article.  It was a combination of a very challenging project at work but also Accenture's passion for bringing your whole self to work that finally pushed me to point where I was comfortable sharing my story. 
       So I'll explain.  This is essentially, it's a story of a mom who two years after her son was born woke up one morning barely able to see out of one eye.  The pain around that eye was excruciating.  It was ultimately diagnosed as optic neuritis.  This is a tell tail sign of multiple sclerosis.  Since then there have been a variety of symptoms and attacks.  When I went on my entire sides or irritatingly loud tinnitus.  Really the 14 years after that diagnosis, I shared that news with precious few.  I told them my trusted tribe, even to the point where only a few in my close family knew I'll never forget that moment when sitting down with my parents there was a conversation about being careful not to share with grandma and grandpa because it might make them nervous and others in my family.  I think it was that stigma that was really borne ‑‑ unfortunately for me in my home ‑‑ that also contributed to my silence. 
       Only my trusted tribe they knew ‑‑ only they knew would know why I needed to take time off sometimes for days.  I really didn't want anyone worrying about me.  I didn't want it affecting my career at all.  To be honest, I think part of me was just wishing it away.  And then a few years ago I was asked to take on a pretty significant priority at work about ‑‑ I guess this is about two years ago. 
       While being my usual type A self, I found myself in the throes of an attack.  It left me fatigue and significant recall issues.  It's what we call in the MS community brain fog.  No one knew.  What they knew was I wasn't bringing my typical A game.  I eventually rolled off that project left with some pretty significant confidence issues as a result.  Like my confidence was at an all‑time low.  Here I was managing director, relatively new managing director at the time, I should be able to nail this.  And it was only a month or two after rolling off, Joyce, that we held a team event where a dear colleague of mine, Barbara Harvey out of our UK team, lead a session on mental health, mindfulness and the importance of being truly human. 
       We are also receiving more and more messages from leadership here in North America particularly about the importance of bringing our whole selves to work.  What I came to realize is that I really wasn't bringing my whole self to work.  I was setting the wrong example by keeping my disability a secret.  I was putting my own mental health in jeopardy. 
       So I took it to heart and published two internal blogs about my journey.  And the response has been just so incredible with others willing to share their own stories, their fears.  I just had two calls yesterday with colleagues who just wanted to talk, either about the MS diagnosis or about their own journey.  And this is ‑‑ all of this wraps around why I was so very passionate about using my research skills to focus on developing this study that we're going to talk about today, this business case for including persons with disabilities in the workforce and giving them a place where they can have careers and thrive. 

>> Joyce bender:  Okay.  Just to give you an idea here of what Laurie's like.  I'm over here smiling because I want to ask you, how, to all of the listeners, how many people do you know, when someone says, oh, you let the cat out of the bag, they're meaning, oh, I wanted to tell that.  Or oh, that was my big surprise.  In other words, I'm proud of this.  I wanted to tell everyone.  Who do you know that would say, oh, you let the cat out of the bag, I wanted to tell everyone I have a disability!  Wow.  If we could get everyone to do that, wouldn't that be great? 
       I just want you all to remember that, what she said.  You let the cat out of the bag.  This is something really important and really something I want to tell.  Boy, Laurie, you've come a long way, huh. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  You're not kidding.  I'll never forget and maybe she's listening Hanna, one of my colleagues here in the New York office.  She was there.  I had to reach over.  I grabbed her hand.  I said, you need to come here and help me push the publish button when I publish the LinkedIn article.  It's not easy but once you get to that point, it is amazing, the burden that lifts. 

>> Joyce bender:  Laurie, we have ‑‑ as a woman living with epilepsy and hard of hearing, on behalf of all Americans living with disabilities, I want to thank you for doing that.  Because as I said earlier, Accenture, look how many companies you're involved with, not just your number of employees, but how many companies and leaders you're involved with.  And I want to thank you for speaking up and letting everyone know, I'm living with MS and I'm not ashamed.  So, thank you for doing that.  I'm really proud of you. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  Thank you, Joyce.  Well, you know, it was flipping through just an excellent study.  Dan you know it well.  We contributed to with talent innovation.  It's estimated more than one quarter of the U.S. white collar workforce has some form of disability and not disclosing to their employer.  Like me, this is an assumption on my part, but I presume that most of them have a not apparent.  Whether it's mental health, autoimmune disease, some they were born with or some like me that may have surfaced while in the thick of their careers.  I can't speak for everyone out there, but I know what took me so long, Joyce, was honestly, classic FUD, fear, uncertainty, or doubt.  I thought I would be seen as a burden on my team or manager.  Uncertainty as to how others would react to the news.  Doubt that it would make any difference to myself or my work environment.  Honestly I couldn't have been farther from reality on these dimensions. 

>> Joyce bender:  Is that why you think ‑‑ because when I go to a company and they say to me, Joyce, I'm so glad we're working with you because, you know, we do digital accessibility.  We have our software product for disability.  The heart and soul always will be recruitment employment; that is why iDisability was so important to me to break down barriers and stigma.  When I go to a company and they say, this is the first time we've done this.  I remind them, oh, no, you've already hired people with disabilities.  They're working for you right now.  It's just they aren't telling you. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  Yep and this is my ‑‑

>> Joyce bender:  What do you think is the main overriding reason?  Is it what you just said?  What do you think? 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  I think it is.  Okay.  I can't speak for everyone out there, right, who's remaining silent.  We're all on our own journey as far as that's concerned.  But, yeah, for me it came down to FUD and what I believe, truly, it would be amazing if more of us disclosed.  Because my fear by not disclosing we have employees who, like me, they're ‑‑ they're more stressed at work than they need to be because they're trying so hard to keep their conditions hidden.  I feel that nondisclosure perpetuates that workplace that is disabled in its own way.  So blind to the needs of its employees on matters related to things like accommodations that may be need, accessible technology or tools that are needed to do our jobs, policies that need to be in place, training that should be made available to our people, especially to our managers for how to most effectively recruit, interview and work with a person with disability.  IDisability is an amazing doing for that. 

>> Joyce bender:  Well, thank you.  But I have to say I do think it's that stigma.  I do think it's what will people think?  I mean, like you, I ‑‑ when I first found out that I had epilepsy, there were only a few people that knew.  And one day, I meet Tony Cohlelo and I tell Tony, yes, I have a seizure disorder.  He says, no, you mean you have epilepsy.  That's it.  From that day forward, I'm living with epilepsy.  It was at first, yeah, I have a disorder, but I wasn't saying the word.  And, Dan, I know that's hard for you to believe with me. 
       But in 1997 and that's only 7 years after the ADA was signed.  But, Dan, I'll ask you also, do you think that's the main reason people do not disclose? 

>> Dan Ellerman:  I think definitely stigma is definitely a huge part of it.  The only part that we may not discuss on why people won't disclose is just being educated on what the definition of disability is.  I've come to find out that many people will kind of equate a disability or if they claim to have a disability in the workplace that they're needing an accommodation or adjustment in the workplace.  That's not really the case.  In most of the cases, there might be no accommodation needed.  For my instance, I have Type 1 diabetes.  So I'll come out in full disclosure, I'm a Type 1 diabetic, insulin dependent, but I don't need my employer to do anything, but what I do need them to do is to have an awareness of who I am as a person and my diabetes as a part of me.  In case I'm with colleagues and I happen to go into diabetic shock and they have to call 911, at least they know my condition.  They know that maybe giving me some milk or juice will help the current situation or anything else that may come up. 
       So I think it's a little bit of an educational and awareness around what constitutes a disability in the system.  What organizations use that information for and why it's so helpful for organizations to understand what their workforce looks like and is composed of. 

>> Joyce bender:  Now, Dan, did you just start disclosing this? 

>> Dan Ellerman:  No.  Actually I've been pretty open about my diabetes.  It was diagnosed seven years ago.  So when I turned 40 I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and my wife said that explains a lot of my behavior she thinks.  Since I've been diagnosed with it and I had some bouts where I had some disorientation and dizziness with my insulin levels and blood sugar levels, I have been pretty ‑‑ I've been working in this space for a long time.  I've been pretty forthcoming about, you know, saying that I have diabetes. 

>> Joyce bender:  Well, let me tell you something, and I can tell what Laurie's like.  If you knew Dan, he also Mr. Workaholic.  So my point here is two very professional, successful, business leaders working for one of the most prestigious companies and they are successful and they're living with disabilities.  If you're at Accenture and you're listening to this show right now, just know that when you speak up, you know, there are young people living with disabilities that some of which are going through really dark times. 
       You may be more ‑‑ you may be doing more than just helping someone self‑disclose.  You could be saving a life.  So if you're listening to the show, I hope you too will speak up because I think this is just awesome what Accenture is doing. 
       So we're going to go to a quick break for our news break which as you all know we have every half hour.  Advocacy matters with Peri Jude Radecic.  Peri, are you with us? 

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC:  I'm with you. 

>> Joyce bender:  How are you? 

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC:  Hey, I'm doing great today.  How about you? 

>> Joyce bender:  I am doing great. 

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC:  Well, Joyce, it's an exciting week in Congress.  Everything is geared up and instead of one topic, I have got several topics to discuss on advocacy matters this week.  There are three big issues happening and they all start tomorrow.  The United States Senate committee on finance is hosting a hearing to examine abuse and neglect in nursing homes. 
       The hearing is going to be held tomorrow morning at 10:15.  The Senate committee is going to broadcast the hearing live from the Dirksen Senate Office building.  I will be posting a link to that building on disability rights Pennsylvania Twitter and Facebook page today.  There's really nothing to do, there's no bill.  No one's calling for action yet, but for those who absolutely are interested and (audio breaking up) move people out of nursing homes, tomorrow will be a good hearing to tune into.  So that starts at 10:15 tomorrow in the Senate finance committee, Senator Grassley, a Republican from Iowa chairs that committee and two of our senators in Pennsylvania, Senator Toomey and Senator Casey have an interest in this issue and are on that committee. 

>> Joyce bender:  Awesome. 

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC:  The second issue taking place again tomorrow at 10:00 is the committee on education and labor.  We are finally going to mark up the raise the wage act.  That's tomorrow in education and labor.  The bill number and we have talked about this legislation before on your committee, it's HR582.  And besides raising the minimum wage for everybody, it actually transitions people with disabilities out of the subminimum wage and to a fair wage over five years.  So it ends the subminimum wage and it happens over five years. 
       So we'll move from $4.25 an hour to $12.25 an hour.  That markup which will ‑‑ you can also watch will be tomorrow at 10:00.  And we will again post that on Twitter and Facebook so everyone can have access to that information and that markup. 
       So what's a markup?  Well, it's when a committee who has had a hearing on a bill decides to actually look at the legislation, take amendments, and move the bill forward.  So that's what a markup is. 

>> Joyce bender:  Wow.  We've got a lot going on.

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC:  Oh, my gosh!  So much is happening this week.  Tomorrow and again I say thanks to the association of Americans with people with disabilities for getting this information out.  The Disability Integration Act, which we've also talked about on your show this year, HR555, which was reintroduced in this Congress is so important because it addresses long‑term services and supports for people with disabilities and helps us live in the community instead of (beeping) institution.  When we aired this segment on February 5th, there were 24 co‑sponsors in the Senate and 66 in the House.  Now we have 25 co‑sponsors in the Senate and 100 co‑sponsors in the House.  Your listeners have responded. 
       So the disability advocacy community is pushing hard and we are having an all out; all day push tomorrow to have a call‑in day or write‑in day to push all of our members to co‑sponsor the Disability Rights Integration Act, 100 members are great but we really want the energy and commerce committee and the U.S. House of Representatives to hold a hearing on the legislation.  More co‑sponsors are important.  So a national call‑in day would be important.  We will have on Facebook and Twitter a LinkedIn.  All you have to do is type in your address and you can easily pull up your members of Congress.  We make it as easy as we can to you to send that communication tomorrow to your members of Congress.  So, again, advocacy matters.  The goal of our community is to pass the Disability Integration Act and to make sure that people have options instead of nursing homes and live in the community and end that institutional bias, so you can help us pass this bill by July 26th, the 29th anniversary of the ADA.  So go to for links to our Twitter and Facebook feeds so you can get all this information or visit our Twitter and Facebook feeds if you already follow us.  We will be posting this information the rest of today and all day tomorrow. 

>> Joyce bender:  Oh, that is awesome.  Peri, once again, is that right? 


>> Joyce bender:  I encourage you to go there.  Make sure you go.  Go to that page advocacy matters.  Read everything we have out there.  By the way, you know, Peri didn't ask me to do this, make a contribution.  Everything this organization is doing is to help civil rights for Americans with disabilities.  Peri, you are awesome.  Thank you for our news break.

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC:  Thanks.  Have a good rest of the show. 

>> Joyce bender:  Laurie, we do that because a lot of times people across the United States with disabilities, they really don't know what's going on as it relates to them.  And I want everyone to know.  That's why a couple years ago we started having a news break every half hour and it has really been well received because people appreciate knowing what's going on. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  Yeah.  So very important. 

>> Joyce bender:  Yes, yes.  Well, now for the highlight of this show today.  One of the reasons I called Dan is I said, we've got to have someone on to talk about this fabulous and very powerful research project that Accenture did for AAPD and Disability:IN.  So, Laurie, take it away. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  Well, so, Dan, do you want to start by telling the story behind how this actually came about? 

>> Dan Ellerman:  Sure.  And I'll do this quickly.  It was about a year ago back in February, I would say, that I was asked to attend a meeting in D.C. with Senator Ted Kennedy, Junior, Floury from Microsoft, David Casey from CVS, Jill Houghton, the executive director of Disability:IN and Helena Berger, executive director of AAPD.  But we were all in this conference room and we really wanted to figure out what was needed in the business community to convince CEOs and the investor community that disability inclusion was good for business.  I remember the senator pondering out loud saying, only if we knew of a research center of expertise that would be willing to take this project on and try to find the true correlations from disability inclusion efforts to business outcomes. 
       Funny thing was, they were all looking at me.  I'm not sure why.  I had just met not that long ago Laurie Henneborn here with us.  And I said, well, I do know a managing director in our research function that has a passion around disability inclusion.  So I said, let me go back and talk to her.  I try not to promise anything I can't deliver on in person.  So I left that meeting.  Got on the call ‑‑ on a call right away with Laurie and talked to her about, you know, can we prove the business case for disability inclusion?  Disability:IN had four or five years of data that we could dig through where they were capturing best practices of large employers and that we could dig through that data and try to figure out what the outcomes are. 
       So we had been putting together thought leadership ‑‑ Accenture has been putting leadership around gender and pride.  We needed to up our game on disability inclusion.  When I approached our leadership team, Chad who is our general counsel and he also represents our focus on enablement which is our persons with disabilities efforts on our general management council which is the CEO and their direct reports.  Chad, I know, Joyce, you know, he happens to be a person with a disability, part of the disability community as someone that's an amputee.  When we brought the project up, it didn't take much convincing that this is something that we need to do, this is something that Accenture wants to be a part of, that larger global conversation in disability inclusion and what inclusive policies means to employment and living conditions and just independence and all those other things, that it was really a no‑brainer. 
       And then Laurie, with her passion, kind of just took the baton and ran.  I'll let her give you all the juicy details from the research. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  Thanks, Dan.  Perfect.  And so, Joyce, as Dan said, we instinctively knew that being inclusive of persons with disabilities isn't simply the right thing to do; it's a business imperative.  That was at that point a hypothesis.  But during the early stages of our study, we discovered lots of, what I would say qualitative helpful previous research that has shown that employees with disabilities offer substantial benefits to the business such as increased innovation, improved productivity, a better work environment but nothing was really providing that compelling data driven business case, one that was rooted in actual company data reporting insight. 
       So we wanted this research to go a huge step further.  Ted Kennedy, Junior was absolutely driven to achieving this goal which means we were as well.  So we wanted to prove it actually pays to be inclusive of the ‑‑ what we know is roughly 11 million people who are not currently participating in the U.S. labor force, in case our data modeling efforts on this study led by my colleague here in New York, Vincenzo increasing the persons with disabilities in the workforce by just 1% more we can see a boost of GDP of $25 billion.  How do we go about this?  First, it helped.  It helped to have access to the robust sample of roughly 140 companies who have participated over the last four years of the disability equality index.  We had access to this at Disability:IN and AAPD.  And the DEI, for those who don't know, is an annual transparent benchmarking tool that gives U.S. businesses an objective score on their disability exclusion score on policies and practices.  By using this sample we were able to review and assess where companies were going above and beyond illustrating themselves as what we called disability inclusion champions in this study which turned out to be roughly 45 companies in our sample. 
       Once we had these companies identified, we were able to perform some very compelling financial correlation analysis.  And this analysis, thanks again, to Vincenzo and his team revealed incredible results, best in class participating in the index performed financially.  On average, this is where I cue the drum roll.  Champions achieved 28% higher revenue, two times higher net income and 30% higher economic profit margin. 
       But it didn't end there.  We wanted this study, Joyce, to also resonate with investors and the investment community.  So we took a look at correlations to shareholder value, both for the champions and also for those who improved their actions and scores over time.  Because every company is at different stages of this very important journey.  And we needed to acknowledge that. 
       Again, we were pleasantly surprised by the results.  For example, we found that improvers on average were four times more likely to have total shareholder returns that outperformed those of their peer group compared to other companies. 

>> Joyce bender:  Wow. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  Pretty powerful stuff, right?  We couldn't have been more pleased.  And just the take up and the sharing of the study which is available on  The title is getting to equal, the disability inclusion advantage, just the way this study is being incorporated now into our own, right, Dan, our own client discussions and events, et cetera, has been really humbling and incredible. 

>> Joyce bender:  Wow.  You know what?  I'll tell you what I love about this.  Its ‑‑ Ted Kennedy said, it's one thing if I go out or you or Dan or him and say, you know what?  When you embrace disability inclusion such as the DEI, when you embrace this, there is a return on investment.  There is a return on profits.  And here, that's one thing me saying it or any of us, but now you have the data. 


>> Joyce bender:  So how do people get that report? 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  It's available on  You can follow me on Twitter I'm constantly tweeting about it.  That's the best way to go about obtaining the study. 

>> Joyce bender:  So the companies that participated versus those that did not was shocking.  It was really shocking. 


>> Joyce bender:  To see.  You know what?  What surprised you the most, Laurie? 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  (Sigh) what surprised me the most?  I think it was the ‑‑ again, the data that surfaced ‑‑ if we're talking about the study, what surprised me the most, it's the data around the improvers that was, by far, more than we were expecting.  We were expecting four times more in shareholder value it was incredible.  It's a powerful message to deliver to those companies who are perhaps on the earlier ‑‑ in the earlier stages of their journey.  If they're still focused predominantly on getting the employment right, getting their recruiting practices in place, et cetera, they can see that there is that potential for growth as they continue to move along those, what we call those four key actions, so employ, engage, enable, and then ultimately, empowering.  I would say that's probably what stands out for me from the study. 
       A surprise outside of the study is just, again, the way in which this study is being amplified.  I've had conversations with my Italian colleagues and my colleagues in France.  This continues to ‑‑ yeah.  What do I say, Dan?  Overwhelmingly overwhelming. 

>> Dan Ellerman:  Right.  So, again, it's funny, myself and my colleagues talk about this research and this report as they keep on giving.  I would say one of the highlights of the reach that we've had with this paper, you know with the product that Laurie and her team has been able to develop, it was featured at Davos this year for the first disability inclusion main panel session.  It's the first time at Davos on the main stage.  Accenture was able to be a part of that at North America CEO Julie Sweet participated in that panel with Carolyn Casey in the valuable campaign.  And we were ‑‑ they lead the session off talking about the research and what it means for businesses and what it means for the economies that take this seriously. 
       So to me, it's just been mind boggling the reach and impact it has had on the community to have the discussions.  So another example of that is comptroller from New York sending out a letter to all the companies that they invest in because they have a pretty large pension fund that they can activate a lot of investment dollars.  So he ‑‑ the attitude to their investment strategy, the disability exclusion lends to let all the companies know that they are investing in or thinking about investing in that they should participate in the disability equality index and to really manage and assess their practices.  I couldn't ask for a better outcome that's really impacting on ‑‑ in a large scale fashion. 

>> Joyce bender:  Yeah.  I think we should all salute Accenture because we finally have in our hands this report with all of this data. 
       You know, we can finally say to companies, look at this.  Dan just as you said for Tom DiNapoli to be so impacted by this that he would contact CEOs saying, this is important, that is phenomenal.  It really is.  So everyone listening to the show, I want you to know how awesome Accenture is, that they did something like this pro bono. 
       Laurie, this will be your legacy doing this.  I mean, it really will.  This is so powerful.  I know, Laurie, you think also just the personal stories in life have an impact.  Isn't that true? 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  They really do.  And if anything, it's studies like this and bringing this study into local team meetings, business leader forms where you have business leaders, very often times when I'm asked to present on the study, it's not just about the numbers, right?  It does involve those personal stories.  And inevitably I end up including my own story. 
       I think that's really what we want to have happen.  We want this study to be shared, but even more so, we want the conversation to be happening, right, whether it's between business leaders or between employees or business leaders to employees, that's the important, I think, aspect for me. 

>> Joyce bender:  Well, Laurie, I wanted to ask you, you mentioned about social media before.  But how best to follow you and I know you're on LinkedIn, is that where they would go to get the blog?  How else can they follow you? 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  I mean, I think ‑‑ I think, yes, I am on Twitter.  It's Hennegeek because I'm a research geek.  I am on LinkedIn.  At the end of the day it's following that page on and the content that we continue to load there at it relates to our disability inclusion, whether it's leadership or practices, we have a section there on supplier diversity as well with some thought leadership, accessibility, as Dan knows, we have some excellent content along those lines.  Obviously following our partners so AAPD, Disability:IN, you, and this radio show, et cetera.  At the end of the day, this is a group conversation, right?  I believe that first ‑‑ when we talk about the use of the study and how to most effectively amplify, first we need to see more companies shifting their disability inclusion mindset from philanthropy to foundational.  This study really does strike at the core of what a business leader needs to know in order to invest time and resources to any initiative.  It's providing the business case. 
       So now that we have it, the hope is that it will be shared.  It will be talked about.  I've given the website and companies should really use it along with the disability equality index as well to plot where their company is along ‑‑ especially along the four key actions we identified in the study.  Those were, Joyce, employ, engage, enable, and empower. 
       So, you know, do what needs to be done to identify the key goals which will help to accelerate your company along that path to empowerment.  I want to stress the last three actions in particular and among those companies who are serious about hiring more persons with disabilities.  I know this because we did a number of interviews and number crunching, we did a number of introduce to support this study.  If you can't illustrate how you're engaging your workforce to understand and embrace disability inclusion, if you're not enabling your persons with disabilities with the accommodations they need and making your tools and technologies more accessible to your customers and employees alike, or you're not empowering your workforce to continually grow and advance in their jobs or careers, you're going to have a difficult time attracting and/or retaining those individuals. 
       By the way, leading them to feeling comfortable and safe going back to what we were talking about self‑disclosing.  Because as someone with a disability ultimately, we want to know that we can leave FUD, the fear, uncertainty and doubt, at the door and focus on the value that we can deliver through our creativity, through your loyalty, and through our unique skills. 

>> Joyce bender:  Well, Laurie and Dan, you know, what can I say?  This is just so powerful, so great.  And I so appreciate both of you being on the show today and speaking of this show, if you go to iTunes or Spotify you can get this show.  If I were you, share it with everyone.  That's the whole idea, sharing it everyone.  Thank you so much, both of you, for being with us today. 

>> LAURIE HENNEBORN:  Thank you, Joyce.  It's been a pleasure. 

>> Dan Ellerman:  Thank you, Joyce. 

>> Joyce bender:  You know, we end every show with a quote and here it is.  One of the most difficult things to give away is kindness for it is usually returned.  This is Joyce Bender America's voice where disability matters and so does Accenture care about it at  Talk to you next week. 

(Show concluded at 1:57 p.m. CT)


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