Diverse abilities

Leveraging all abilities to build high-performing organizations.

Including people of differing abilities is part of the DNA of our organization. One of our founders, Arthur Young, was deaf and had low vision. Although he was originally trained as a lawyer, his disabilities made it difficult to practice in the courtroom. In response, he turned to the new field of accounting where he could leverage his skills and training in alternate ways. He became an entrepreneur and innovator, not despite his disabilities, but because of them. Inspired by this, we at EY have been working to create an environment where talented people of all abilities can feel comfortable and do their best work.

We believe people are “effectively” disabled by two things: the environment and people’s perceptions. Here at EY, we work hard to build an enabling environment and a respectful, inclusive culture so no person is effectively disabled. For that reason, we like to say that we don’t employ a single person with disabilities. Instead, around the world we have 200,000 people, each of whom has diverse abilities.

People with disabilities are the fastest-growing minority group in America today; there is a one-in-five chance that any one of us could develop a disability before we retire. This is an issue for all companies, and there is so much more we can collectively do to create work environments where everyone can leverage their full talents.

Our first EY Diverse Abilities Leadership Summit, held in New York in December 2014 on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, was a milestone event for us. It gave us the opportunity to convene leading companies and their leaders to discuss new thinking and practices that will help us leverage diverse abilities to create high-performing organizations.

In the pages that follow, we’ve captured some of the key ideas and themes that emerged from the summit. You’ll find that we use the term “disabilities” in these pages, as that is the most widely recognized term globally, though here at EY, we typically refer to “diverse abilities.” We hope that sharing these insights broadly will help other organizations to create opportunities for people of all abilities. By doing so, we will truly deliver on our EY mission of helping to build a better, and more inclusive, working world.

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