Innovations Contributing to the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

Innovations Contributing to the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

Leading Senior Fellow: Shane M. Kanady

To develop a CoP of leading disability network representatives and businesses with an affinity for diversity and inclusion as core elements of innovative firms, with the goal of outlining a framework to address pressing needs for research and data insights. A clear identification of need and opportunity will establish a project focused on increasing business innovation and competitiveness by including persons with disabilities. Through this work, PI will gain recognition as a leading source of research that addresses critically important economic and social issues and their impact on competitiveness. PI will achieve this status through original contributions to the field of research, leveraging its extensive capabilities with global indices and benchmarking studies. It is envisioned that this PI CoP will also take a proactive approach to increase awareness of the enabling power of inclusion, translating research into recommendations for actions and measurable outcomes among stakeholder groups.


An initial framing blog post, three CoP virtual meetings over a one-year period, short conclusion briefing paper, and concept of operations for future work.


There is a common narrative of social inclusion found in PI’s existing focus areas and flagship outputs (Indexes). The health of national economies depends on thriving industries that must innovate to capture the desire and buying power of the consumer base. Innovation is not achievable, or sustainable, without a skilled workforce. The workforce must have access to resources to adapt to changing labor market conditions, which is achieved through a combination of public policies, programs, and industry investment. However, the results of these activities fall short of reaching their potential when entire segments of the population are excluded from participation as creators, contributors, and consumers.

The 2018 Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTC) demonstrates that “paying attention to demographic diversity nurtures a sustainable and innovative future and helps organizations to retain and develop talent” which must include persons with disabilities. Additionally, the revised model of the Network Readiness Index (NRI) stressed PI’s recognition of the need for an increased focus on traditionally underrepresented populations, with specific reference to persons with disabilities. Much can be learned about how advancements can be made in the areas of technology competitiveness, innovation readiness, and people and global talent development by understanding the experience of the most marginalized populations. The proposed CoP will serve the purpose of addressing such questions and needs.


It is universally recognized that persons with disabilities are among the most marginalized populations in the world. Persons with disabilities comprise approximately 15% of the global population, or nearly 1 billion people. The prevalence of the population continues to grow because of age-acquired disabilities and the consequences of natural and man-made disasters, including violent conflict. Globally, this population experiences persistent structural violence and marginalization due to social-identity based barriers that result in stigma, discrimination, and systematic exclusion. Such marginalization also represents a significant set of ‘missed opportunities’ for the world economy as a whole, as valuable talent is often overlooked, or underestimated.


Connection to PI Focus Areas:

Through PI’s leadership, and this CoP, focusing on policy solutions specifically tailored for persons with disabilities will lead to a greater understanding of the critical connections between global economic health, innovation, and competitiveness across industries, in addition to a deeper understanding of the social and economic inclusion of other marginalized groups. These efforts will lead to enhancements to the research, analysis, and applications found in the GII, GTCI, and NRI and provide the opportunity for a complementary project that informs progress on the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

back arrow Back to Communities of Practice

Connect with Portulans Institute

twitter portulans institute linkedin portulans institute instagram portulans institute youtube portulans institute