Major DOE grant recognizes compensation as an important piece of the pie for people with disabilities

ICS contributing partner to ILR’s Employment and Disability Institute
Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Institute for Compensation Studies is among a group headed by the Employment and Disability Institute of Cornell University's ILR School awarded a $4 million grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education to improve career outcomes for people with disabilities.

Americans with disabilities are one-third less likely to participate in the labor force than their nondisabled counterparts – 22 percent versus 70 percent, reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics in October.

"Increasing labor market activity and hiring are the necessary first step," stated Susanne Bruyere, the Principle Investigator for the grant and Director of the Employment and Disability Institute, "but understanding more deeply how employees with disabilities can achieve equitable and enhanced financial rewards for the work they pursue is imperative. The Institute for Compensation Studies will contribute a special focus on total compensation rewards that will drive this understanding."

ICS Director Kevin Hallock will serve as co-principal investigator and research director for the project. He will undertake specific research to study relationships between compensation levels and mix (e.g., how much in salary vs. how much in health care benefits) and job selection and income advancement for persons with disabilities and their nondisabled peers.

Linda Barrington, compensation institute managing director and co-principal investigator, will coordinate the progress of the 27 research, training, and dissemination activities of the five-year project. She explained that in focusing on compensation for employees with disabilities as one of its core program themes, ICS is addressing an issue of immediate demographic importance to U.S. employers.

"A new generation of veterans, many with disabilities, are returning to the workplace. And, add to that, the number of American workers aged 55 to 64 will grow by seven million between 2008 and 2018, a population whose disability numbers are increasing," says Barrington. "Employers need to understand more about how compensation in its many forms can leverage and engage this growing, diverse, and talented pool of employees with disabilities."

According to Hallock, "Understanding compensation deeply means that, rather than talking at employers, we can talk with them about how improving the career outcomes of employees with disabilities may also improve business outcomes overall. It's not necessarily a zero-sum game."

The Institute for Compensation Studies considers compensation broadly to include monetary and non-monetary rewards from work, and how these rewards influence outcomes for individuals, companies, industries and economies.