New research shows that disability inclusion creates long-term business value

June 7, 2022

The Harkin Institute, Voya Financial collaborate on research paper demonstrating that disability-inclusive companies create value for shareholders and society

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), announced today that a research paper released at The 2022 Harkin International Disability Employment Summit shows that companies with an environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy that fosters competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities are creating a competitive advantage and positioning themselves to capitalize on a $13-trillion, global disability market.

Further, the paper highlights how these companies are creating long-term value for shareholders and stakeholders.

The paper is part of an ongoing effort by The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in collaboration with Voya Cares®, Voya Financial’s program that serves people with disabilities and special needs and their caregivers. The research demonstrates that competitive, integrated employment (i.e., the same rate of pay and benefits for people with disabilities as for workers who do not have disabilities) provides lasting benefits to the brand, reputation, and bottom line of companies across every sector of the economy.

In addition, people with disabilities are an under-tapped talent pool that many companies could benefit from, yet even in the current tight labor market, people with disabilities still are struggling to find employment.1

Authored by Robert Ludke, a senior fellow at The Harkin Institute, Competitive, Integrated Employment: A Driver of Long-Term Value Creation makes the case that achieving competitive, integrated employment for those with disabilities is poised to fundamentally change the dynamic of how business creates value in society.

“Competitive, integrated employment is not charity, pity or philanthropy,” said Ludke. “Rather, it is part of a comprehensive ESG business strategy focused on creating sustainable, long-term value. Companies that create inclusive cultures to maximize the talents of every employee are more innovative, more profitable and better positioned to tap into a global marketplace of consumers.”

As noted in the paper, Ludke’s research found that investors — investment banks, asset managers and pension funds, to name a few — are vital in helping corporate executives and boards of directors seize upon the opportunity of competitive, integrated employment. Through their engagement with companies on ESG issues, investors are perfectly positioned to help companies maximize the diverse talents of their employees in a way that creates long-term value for the company, its investors and society.

As concluded in the paper, a diverse, inclusive culture spurs innovation and product strategy designed to identify new markets for growth while creating products that are universally designed to be accessible to people with a wide range of abilities — thereby ensuring sustained profitability and strong returns for investors.

“Voya Financial is committed to disability inclusion because we see it as being an absolute differentiator in the way that we do business,” said Jessica Tuman, Voya’s head of Enterprise ESG and the Voya Cares Center of Excellence. “Disability inclusion is part of our identity, our sales process, our employee well-being and our brand.”

Virtual tickets are still available for the remainder of The Harkin Summit in Belfast, Ireland. The Competitive, Integrated Employment: The Driver of Long-Term Value Creation research paper and additional resources can be found on The Harkin Institute and Voya Cares websites.

About Voya Financial®

Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), is a leading health, wealth and investment company that provides products, solutions and technologies that help Americans become well planned, well invested and well protected. Serving the needs of 14.3 million individual, workplace and institutional clients, Voya has approximately 6,000 employees and had $707 billion in total assets under management and administration as of March 31, 2022. Certified as a “Great Place to Work” by the Great Place to Work® Institute, Voya is purpose-driven and is equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible. Voya has earned recognition as: one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute; a member of the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index; and a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” on the Disability Equality Index. For more information, visit Follow Voya Financial on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @Voya.

About Voya Cares®

An extension of Voya's vision and mission to help all Americans have the quality of life they seek in retirement, the Voya Cares program is committed to being a leader in making a positive difference in the lives of individuals with special needs and disabilities — as well as their families, caregivers and other providers — by offering a depth of resources focused on education, planning and solutions. Go to to learn more.

About The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement

The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University exists to inform citizens, inspire creative cooperation, and catalyze change on issues of social justice, fairness, and opportunity. Founded on the premise that good policy is best achieved when policymakers have access to high quality information, political processes are open and well-understood, and citizens are informed and active participants, The Harkin Institute offers programming, experiences, research and connectivity focused on areas that defined Senator Harkin’s career: labor and employment, people with disabilities, retirement security, and wellness and nutrition.

1. “Hidden Workers: Untapped Talent,” Harvard Business School (, Sept. 2021.


Media Contact:
Kathryn Emery
Voya Financial
Office: (860) 580-2981

Source: Voya Financial, Inc.