Amtrak, CSX, UP Earn Spots on Disability Equality Index - Railway Age

2022-07-23 11:30:31 By : Ms. Phoebe Chow

Since June, Amtrak has completed accessibility-improvement projects at stations in Ashland, Va. (pictured); Westerly, R.I.; and Homewood, Ill., as part of a multi-year effort to bring its more than 500 stations into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. (Photograph Courtesy of Amtrak)

Amtrak, CSX and Union Pacific (UP) have each been recognized as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and nonprofit Disability:IN, achieving high scores on the 2022 Disability Equality Index® (DEI).

Launched in 2015, the annual DEI is described as a “benchmarking tool for measuring disability inclusion in business.” This year, 415 companies—including 69 Fortune 100s—participated. Each was scored on a scale of zero to 100, based on assessments of culture and leadership (30 points); enterprise-wide access (10 points); employment practices (benefits, recruitment, employment, education, retention, advancement, and accommodations; 40 points); community engagement (10 points); supplier diversity (10 points); and non-U.S. operations (not weighted). In 2022, 336 companies received an 80 or above, earning the “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” designation. The results were announced July 19.

AAPD and Disability:IN said a score of 100 “does not mean to convey ‘perfection,’” as they “recognize that there is no one ‘right way’ to practice inclusion, and that some practices may be more practical for some companies or industries than others. A score of 100 on the DEI simply means that a company adheres to many of the numerous leading disability inclusion practices featured in the DEI.”

CSX and Amtrak were among 241 companies to achieve the top DEI score of 100. Others receiving the score: Cummins, Jacobs, Raytheon Technologies, Siemens and United States Steel. UP was among the 68 firms to earn a score of 90. Others that received it: Airbus Americas Inc., Conagra Brands Inc. and Honeywell. Among the 27 businesses to earn a score of 80 were Micron and Schneider Electric.

“Achieving the top DEI score of 100 is a testament to the effectiveness of our company’s efforts to enhance disability inclusion through facility modifications, recruitment, education and advocacy,” CSX Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer Stephanie Noel said. “Disability inclusion is an important part of our corporate culture, which emphasizes collaboration and collective success.”

CSX noted that among its recent actions “designed to attract and support employees with disabilities, the company commissioned a third-party accessibility evaluation of its headquarters office buildings, which resulted in multiple upgrades, such as changing doorknobs to handles, installing automatic badge-activated parking lot gates with extended open time to accommodate wheelchairs, and lowering of automated external defibrillator boxes for easier access.” Among its other actions: assigning dedicated recruiters for disability and military job candidates, and contributing to organizations that support people with disabilities.

“We are thrilled to receive a score of 100 and we’ll challenge ourselves to find ways to take our efforts for disability inclusion even further,” Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said. “At Amtrak, doing the right thing is a core value and we remain dedicated to maintaining our Best Places to Work status.”

Amtrak noted that it has “a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy” for recruiting, welcoming and onboarding, engaging, developing, and promoting, and that one of its eight employee resource groups is for members of the disability community and allies. “America’s Railroad” added that since 2011, it “has made significant progress in bringing numerous facilities into higher levels of accessibility. With a focus on universal design, Amtrak is committed to providing free and unencumbered access to and from trains and throughout stations.”

“Disability inclusion is a rapidly expanding aspect of corporate culture,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of Disability:IN. “Top-scoring companies not only excel in disability inclusion, many are also adopting emerging trends and pioneering measures that can move the disability agenda from accommodation to inclusion and ultimately, genuine belonging.”

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