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State Senator

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Senator Kennedy Announces Connecticut’s "Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion"

Connecticut Companies Among Top-Scorers in the 2017 Disability Equality Index

Several companies located in Connecticut received top scores in the 2017 Disability Equality Index (DEI), the nation’s leading corporate benchmarking tool that evaluates inclusion and equality for people with disabilities.

This is the third year that this list has been compiled by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN). 110 companies participated in the 2017 DEI, with results indicating where companies are excelling in their commitment to inclusive social and governance policies. Among the top scorers of these companies were Aetna, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cigna, Synchrony Financial, The Hartford, United Technologies (UTC), and other companies that have a significant presence in Connecticut and do business in the state.

“I have personally challenged employers around Connecticut to better integrate people with disabilities into their workforce, and I am thrilled to see so many Connecticut companies answer that call,” said Senator Kennedy, a lifelong advocate for people with disabilities and Board Chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities. “The disability community offers tremendous knowledge, experience and dedication that can be an incredible asset for all employers. It is my hope that these companies, as well as all of those recognized in the 2017 DEI can serve as an example for companies around Connecticut, as we work to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.”

“We are honored to be recognized for our efforts to build a diverse workforce where everyone is able to bring their full selves to work and appreciate Senator Kennedy’s leadership in this effort” said Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna chairman and CEO. “At Aetna, our mission is to build a healthier world. Individuals with disabilities know firsthand how to overcome health challenges to reach their full potential, and their ingenuity, adaptability, and courage accelerate our efforts to deliver innovative solutions to our members.”

“The DEI Index is a notable recognition for Boehringer Ingelheim and we are proud to be a recipient of the inaugural award. We are committed to improving and expanding our efforts to foster an even more inclusive workplace. Going forward we will continue to make tangible improvements for all employees,” said Nancy Di Dia, Americas Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Boehringer Ingelheim.

“We are honored to be recognized for disability equality by the American Association for People with Disabilities. At The Hartford, we work every day to develop an inclusive culture that supports and leverages the breadth and experience of our workforce to serve customers better. We appreciate the unique characteristics and perspectives each employee brings to our team,” said The Hartford’s Chief Talent Officer, Tom R. Warters.

“Our listing on the DEI Best Places to Work affirms UTC’s commitment to an inclusive workplace, acknowledges the appreciation we have for the contributions our employees with disabilities make every day, and provides us with a tangible roadmap to follow on our journey to be an employer of choice,” said Elizabeth B. Amato, Executive Vice President & Chief HR Officer, United Technologies Corporation.

“At Synchrony Financial, we are committed to fostering an inclusive work environment where people of all abilities can shine and thrive,” said Margaret Keane, Synchrony Financial President and CEO. “This recognition reinforces how we continuously seek and retain talented employees with disabilities.”

This year, a record 68 employers earned the top DEI rating of 100. This positive trend shows that corporate America is becoming more inclusive to people with disabilities, and that this inclusiveness is helping to drive success in business. The DEI report shows external employee recruitment has become even more inclusive with 95 percent of all 2017 DEI participants having recruitment efforts in place that are specifically geared toward hiring individuals with disabilities; an 11 percentage point increase since 2014.

Companies are also becoming more inclusive internally to employees with disabilities. 88 percent of reporting companies have a specific disability-focused employee resource group or affinity organization; an 18 percentage point increase since 2015. In addition, 86 percent of DEI companies reported a senior executive proactively acts as a champion or sponsor of these resource/affinity groups; a 17 percentage point increase since 2015. Both points signal corporate culture is gradually shifting to be more inclusive.

“We applaud those companies that are advancing their disability inclusion efforts across the business,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of USBLN. “Taking the DEI is a step within the journey, backed with concrete data and insight. The release of this report, and the 68 leading companies, challenges other companies to fill in those critical gaps, and realize the possible results by being inclusive to people with disabilities, throughout the workforce, marketplace and supply-chain.”

“AAPD proudly recognizes this year’s top DEI scorers,” said Helena Berger, President and CEO of AAPD. On the heels of the 27th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we should all take a moment to celebrate our achievements but also reflect on the fact that employment outcomes for Americans with disabilities have remained unchanged. Employment is a pathway to the American Dream, and the DEI is an effective, non-punitive tool that builds partnerships between the disability and business communities to ultimately expand employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and embrace the talents and skills we bring to the workplace. Working together, we can help ensure no one is left behind or unable to pursue their dream because of a disability.”

The recognition of being a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” is reserved for those companies that have scored 80 or above on the DEI. The full company list can be accessed here: http://www.usbln.org/what-we-do/disability-equality-index/2017-DEI-top-companies

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