Originally posted as LinkedIn Article by Jill Houghton, President & CEO, Disability:IN.

Follow Jill on LinkedIn here. In my discussions I always talk about how disability is the missing piece in the global conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion.  In fact, there are 1.3 billion people with disabilities around the globe and I’m one of them.

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, or “#DEAM”, and a perfect time to celebrate companies that are working to advance disability inclusion through programming and sharing their stories. By making disability inclusion a strategic priority, and viewing disability as a strength, companies can achieve their business goals faster and in a more sustainable way.

Being disability inclusive isn’t just about signing a petition or following the crowd. It means real and tangible actions. For example, our comprehensive benchmarking tool, the Disability Equality Index, found that 83% of participating companies have external recruiting efforts to hire people with disabilities. And our Inclusion Works program helped Google run a self-ID campaign that resulted in a significant bump—6.2% of the workforce—identifying as having a disability.

Disability Employment Awareness Month is also a reminder that we’re now in a labor shortage. Prospective candidates have indicated a shift in their priorities: They desire better work-life balance, flexible workplace accommodations, and are looking for employers who openly speak up in support of social justice issues.

Companies are now more conscious about creating safe and culturally engaged workplaces and are implementing policies that prioritize the needs of their employees, like mental health benefits and the ability to work from home—which people with disabilities have been requesting for years! To speed up the economic recovery and to attract new talent, companies need to be more inclusive of people with disabilities.

To celebrate Disability Employment Awareness Month, Disability:IN is once again partnering with Voya Financial on a virtual concert featuring America’s Got Talent Golden Buzzer Winner, Mandy Harvey, who happens to be Deaf, alongside other artists with disabilities. This is a celebration of the limitless talent of people with disabilities. We invite you, your friends, family and colleagues to join us on October 28.  RSVP for the virtual concert here.

On October 19, we’re holding the final round of our Pitch Perfect Challenge with three entrepreneurs with disabilities, as part of our Supplier Diversity program. Winners will receive cash, in-kind prizes and an executive education scholarship to Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College. Learn more and register to watch here.

We’re also about to launch our 2022 NexGen Student Leader program. Last year,over  200 college students and recent graduates made up the class of NextGen Leaders and received matchmaking opportunities and internships. Register for the virtual internship showcase here.

For companies that are interested in gaining more knowledge around disability programming around the globe, we invite you to view our calendar of October events and register here.

We like to say …. if you’re not including disability in diversity, you’re not leading inclusively. People with disabilities are truly the missing piece in the diversity conversation. We know that when employees begin to see disability as a strength, they’ll be more comfortable working as their authentic selves, disclosing their disability, and asking for the accommodations they need to succeed in their jobs. Companies, in turn, build an inclusive culture that is sustainable and competitive, which we know drives bottom-line impact.

The best way for companies to do this is to get their leadership to articulate their support for disability across the enterprise. During Disability Employment Awareness Month, we invite CEOs, companies, investors,  and employees to take the opportunity to dial up this conversation in the workplace. You’ll be glad you did.

Join IN: https://disabilityin.org/are-you-in/ #AreYouIN?