Episode #127 – Disability as a Source of Competitive Advantage: Freek Vermeulen

On today’s episode, Teresa interviews Freek Vermeulen, a professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School. October marks the start of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. In continuing to honor this year’s theme, “Advancing Access and Equity,” we’re dedicating today’s episode to highlighting the competitive advantages inherent in hiring those with disabilities. Teresa and Freek discuss his research into ‘Disability as a Source of Competitive Advantage.’

They discuss the common misconceptions employers may have about inclusion in the workplace for people with disabilities. Freek and Luisa Alemany recently published their study that was in Harvard Business Review, “Disability as a Source of Competitive Advantage. Employing people with disabilities can significantly improve an organization.” This concluded that companies realize the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion. But most focus on gender and ethnicity, paying less attention to people with disabilities.

In the United Kingdom, people without disabilities, of employable age are 81% rate of employment, whereas people with disabilities are just 53% employed. People with a disability struggle with employment.

Freek and Luisa interviewed mostly European companies but also included companies in Columbia, some being multi-national.

The study found that when you hire people with disabilities it can lead to a real competitive advantage, here are the many ways:

  • Disabilities often confer unique talents that make people better at particular jobs.
  • The presence of employees with disabilities elevates the culture of the entire organization, making it more collaborative and boosting productivity.
  • A reputation for inclusiveness enhances a firm’s value proposition with customers, who become more willing to build long-term relationships with the company.
  • Being recognized as socially responsible gives a firm an edge in the competition for capital and talent.

To connect with Freek click here

To read the article, click here

For information on National Disability Employment Awareness Month, click here

Episode Timestamp

00:06Introduction and Disclaimer 01:32Common Misconceptions About Inclusion 08:31Break and Public Service Announcement 8:55Advantages of Hiring People with Disabilities 017:06Teresa’s Closing Remarks
Hosted by

Teresa McQueen, Esq.
Founder, Host and Executive Producer
Teresa is a skilled trial attorney (a recovering litigator!), Corporate Counsel for Western Growers Family of Companies, a published author and frequent speaker on a wide range of topics including harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. She is a Certified Business Etiquette Trainer and hosts the Workplace Perspective podcast to help organizations of all sizes develop and maintain successful employer/employee relationships.*

*The views expressed by Teresa McQueen are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Western Growers Family of Companies, its officers, directors, board members, employees, or members.

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