Bailey Calfee
Oct 26, 2023

Accenture and TD Bank unveil coalition aimed at increasing disability inclusion in marketing and communications

EXCLUSIVE: In partnership with Disability:IN, it aims to create measurable change by sharing resources across industries and competitors.

(L to R) Accenture’s Jill Kramer; Disability:IN’s Russell Shaffer and Allyce Torres; TD Bank’s John Pluhowski. (Photo: Accenture, used with permission).
(L to R) Accenture’s Jill Kramer; Disability:IN’s Russell Shaffer and Allyce Torres; TD Bank’s John Pluhowski. (Photo: Accenture, used with permission).

Global professional services agency Accenture has partnered with TD Bank and Disability:IN, a nonprofit which aims to increase disability inclusion in businesses, to create a cross-industry coalition of CMOs and CCOs aimed to power disability inclusion across marketing and communications.

Jill Kramer, Accenture’s chief marketing and communications officer, noted in an interview with Campaign US the need for disability inclusion on all fronts is recognised as a priority across the industry and with clients, as noted in a 2018 study from Accenture and Disability:IN. An updated report, yet to be released, shows while the interest in and focus on disability inclusion has increased since then, the action taken by companies has remained stagnant. 

The coalition hopes to create momentum by sharing of resources, which Kramer noted is what is needed to drive change. She added there is not a lack of creativity, technology or commitment to tackling the lack of disability inclusion, but “the gap is in the ability to scale and make the changes we need to make pervasive.”

“This is the opposite of each company making their own individualized progress—it's a commitment to share so that any step you have in learning can be replicated,” Kramer added. “In doing so, we'll take some of the horrific statistics around things like accessibility of content and change them much faster than if we were each trying to do it alone.”

"We believe there's strength in numbers, especially when purpose-driven brands come together to accelerate progress in breaking down barriers to inclusion," added John Pluhowski, TD Bank's chief communications officer and executive lead of its disabilities community, in an emailed statement. "We are here to serve, share what we have learned over the years and come together to drive positive change within our chosen professions."

Accessibility of content is one of the coalition’s six objectives; it also hopes to address the lack of disabled people and perspectives in representation, education, employment and thought leadership, as well as amplify the community within the newly formed coalition.

Jill Houghton, president and CEO of Disability:IN noted in an emailed statement that these goals are aimed to "advance authentic and affirming representation of people with disabilities in marketing and communications," which is "critical for breaking down barriers in employment and society."

The companies are scaling their own internal programs to make them available to each other and thereby hope to ramp up the progress. Kramer noted Accenture in particular has scaled its own internal training program for creating inclusive content.

The coalition brings together CMOs and CCOs from TD Bank as well as Disability:IN partner companies Adobe, Experian, SAP and more to be announced. While not every executive in the group has a disability, each company will bring in team members to “speak on behalf of the community to ensure that what we’re doing really is helpful, not just what we think or hope is helpful,” said Kramer.

The coalition will also extend to customers, said Kramer, who noted Accenture will take the lessons learned and “build them into offerings for our clients.”

Through this process, Kramer noted Accenture has taken steps to shift the way briefs are written so they, “from their very inception, acknowledge the broad variety of perceptions and abilities of people who will engage with what we're creating.” Traditionally, accessibility comes at the end of the production process when adding closed captioning or visual tracks.

Briefs that ask for concepts to be presented for those who cannot see or hear aspects of the creative, for example, acknowledge a diverse audience from inception.

There’s a strong business case for creating not just inclusive creative, but a welcoming work environment. Accenture and Disability:IN’s latest study found companies that take action for increased disability inclusion are 25% more likely to outperform their peers in productivity, measured by revenue per employee.

“You'll be a more productive company when you are a more inclusive company and you're making use of the talents and the capabilities of people with disabilities,” noted Kramer. “But then, you are also a more attractive company and those things like your income and your profitability increase as well.”

Kramer added the coalition is an effort to expand Disability:IN’s reach to include marketing and communications, areas where a company’s commitment to representation is most visible to consumers.

“[Marketing is] the front door through which most people will engage with a company, brand or product, and if we are not opening that door all the way, then we’re missing out,” she said.

The result will be not only a missed audience, but a lost audience. “If we don't close the gap and invite in the audience that is missing out on our content, stories and experiences, the gap is just going to keep getting wider and the people that we're leaving behind will fill that gap without you, your brand and your content,” said Kramer.

Campaign US

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