Racial & Social Equity in Employment: Challenges and Solutions

Good Data Disaggregated by Race to Drive Commitments to Equity

Fundamentally, using good data is necessary to drive for improved and more equitable outcomes for the many underrepresented communities and intersectional identities contained within the broader disability community. Good data must capture not only disability status, but also be disaggregated by race. Our nation, our government, and our policies will never advance an equity agenda, unless decision makers can clearly see the disproportionate impact of their choices.

The pandemic has made clear that the nation must transform itself to advance racial justice and make equitable opportunities a reality. Achieving that reality must begin by improving employment outcomes for Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) people with disabilities. There are 3.2 million working-age African Americans with disabilities, most of whom face structural barriers to success. Therefore, we would like to reflect on the realities and challenges that continue to shape the lives of Black people with disabilities.

In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 32 percent of working-age African Americans with disabilities had jobs, compared to 75.5 percent of working-age African Americans without disabilities. Even before the coronavirus disproportionately impacted BIPOC communities, fully 32 percent of African Americans with disabilities lived in poverty, compared to 20.9 percent of African Americans without disabilities.

This data was drawn together from the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, released by the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. Making such data publicly available is a good first step. However, such data then needs to drive the actions taken by decision makers throughout society.

The Compendium can be found here: https://disabilitycompendium.org/

The Compendium Supplement with detailed racial data can be found here: https://disabilitycompendium.org/compendium/2020-annual-disability-statistics-supplement

Another example of good data to drive future decision making, is the National Core Indicators Data Brief released in February 2021 by the Human Services Research Institute (HRSI) and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDS). This report contains a variety of statistics on racial and ethnic disparities in quality of life and health domains for people with ID/DD.

The brief describes itself as "a beginning step in what is intended to be a comprehensive examination of disparities experienced by Black participants in the public IDD system. Using data from the National Core Indicators In-Person Survey, the brief highlights statistically significant differences among a range of outcomes experienced by Black participants compared to white participants."

For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who are part of marginalized racial and ethnic groups, issues of racial equity and disparities overlap and intersect with the stigma associated with ableism. Researchers have called this the "double burden" of racial and ethnic disparities among people living with disabilities

The full brief can be found here: https://www.nationalcoreindicators.org/upload/core-indicators/NCI_DB_RacialEquity_final.pdf

Moving the nation to become more equitable for underrepresented communities and dismantling systems that create marginalization requires a transformation in culture, practice and the economy. It requires the courage and commitment of every American and the adoption of policies to end disparities.

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Idea No. 635