On Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their latest report on employment-related issues for persons with a disability. The report shows that about 44 percent of unemployed persons with a disability faced a barrier to employment in 2021, which was down from about 48 percent in 2019. The unemployment rate for persons with a disability also decreased 2.5 percentage points between 2020 and 2021, according to the BLS. 

In the United States, about 26 percent of adults have some type of disability, with women making up a greater proportion (54 percent compared to 46 percent). Despite the trend toward fewer employment barriers, the jobless rate for those with a disability is still about double the rate for those without a disability. Barriers to employment for persons with a disability include hiring bias, a lack of education or training, the need for special features at the job, and a lack of transportation. 

Persons with a disability fall under the category of a diverse supplier. Diverse suppliers are businesses (or sole proprietors) that are 51% or more owned, managed, and controlled by qualifying diverse individuals or traditionally underrepresented groups. This includes minorities, women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, veterans, persons with disabilities, and those who meet the small business criteria as defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

In an effort to create fair and equitable sourcing practices and provide representation across the supply chain, many companies have developed supplier diversity programs which allows them to take an inclusive approach to procurement. Some studies show that as many as 85 percent of companies in the U.S. have a supplier diversity program. A 2021 survey by the Association of National Advertisers found that the importance of supplier diversity for marketing and advertising increased for 89 percent of respondents during the previous year. 

Nevertheless, there is clearly a long way to go in ensuring that persons with a disability are fairly and equitably recruited, considered, and hired. The Society for Human Resource Management shares best practices for increasing employment opportunities for those with a disability, including creating inclusive culture, broadening talent practices, fostering awareness, and prioritizing access for all. These strategies are not just important for improving workplace diversity, but for creating equitable access and opportunities across the supply chain. 

Datalou is the only supplier diversity management system with over one million suppliers with specific capabilities in advertising, marketing, communications, and media. Our robust tracking and reporting system helps you document spending and sourcing efforts, manage certifications, and share data with stakeholders.