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ESG

New York state comptroller urges companies to participate in Disability Equality index

Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York state comptroller

Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York state comptroller and sole trustee of the $213.2 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, called on 49 of the largest U.S. companies to report on their inclusion of people with disabilities across their enterprises.

This includes Apple, McDonald's, Nike and Twentieth Century Fox.

In his letter to the companies, Mr. DiNapoli urged the firms to register and participate in the Disability Equality index, an initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN. The DEI addresses the lack of information about and disclosure of corporate policies on disability inclusion by creating a benchmarking tool that allows companies to self-report their disability policies and practices.

"We want the companies our pension fund invests in to be desirable places to work for everyone," Mr. DiNapoli said in a news release. "Studies have shown that businesses that commit to disability inclusion outperform their peers. Companies should seize the opportunity to join the growing number of corporations that recognize the benefits of disability inclusion and are reporting their efforts."

Matthew Sweeney, spokesman for Mr. DiNapoli, said in an email: "We expect our portfolio companies to be responsive to shareholder concerns. State Comptroller DiNapoli asks that they participate in the 2019 DEI. Disability inclusion is an ESG issue that, as a long-term investor, the fund will continue to address."

Mr. Sweeney added that the state comptroller's office "will consider next steps for engagement with companies once we receive their responses."

The deadline for participating in the 2019 DEI is Jan. 31.

"We hope Comptroller DiNapoli's letter will encourage corporations to benchmark their disability inclusion efforts annually, learn from industry peers, and share best practices," said Disability:IN President and CEO Jill Houghton in an emailed statement. "Companies that take the DEI and have improved their inclusion of people with disabilities over time, are four times more likely to have total shareholder returns that outperform their peers. This is a win-win for everyone."

Ted Kennedy Jr., chairman of the American Association of People with Disabilities, added: "AAPD is encouraged by the steps that Comptroller DiNapoli is taking to educate top corporations and ultimately, their investors, consumers and peers to set new standards for workplace diversity."