Editor's note: Tom Pearson is managing director and founding partner of MarketResponse International. He can be reached at t.pearson@marketresponse.com. The author wishes to acknowledge the work of MarketResponse International’s Qualitative Research Moderator Derek Pearson, Senior Research Director Susan McCullough and Senior Research Analyst Lynn Schreifels on this project.

In this article we share the findings from qualitative and quantitative research conducted among employers in Minnesota earlier this year which uncovered surprising insights on the positive effects that people with disabilities in the workforce have had on their fellow employees and the companies they work for. The insights show how an exemplary public and private sector partnership is resulting in broader societal benefits from enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for people with developmental disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law in 1990, is a comprehensive federal civil rights statute protecting the rights of people with disabilities. It has had a major impact on access and inclusion to employment opportunities for people with disabilities, which in turn has greatly enhanced their chances for equity and inclusion in society in general.

Title I of the ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees. It prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities and other privileges of employment. It restricts questions that can be asked about an applicant’s disability before a job offer is made. It also requires that employers provide “reasonable accommodations” to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship.

Two phases of research were completed among employers in Minnesota in the first quarter of 2023:

Phase I: Qualitative research was con...