Adena T. Friedman
President and Chief Executive Officer
151 W. 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Dear Ms. Friedman,
I write to you on behalf of chronically ill and disabled Americans across the country to urge Nasdaq to expand the Proposal to Adopt Listing Rules to Advance Board Diversity to also include members of the chronically ill and disabled communities.
We greatly appreciate that Nasdaq’s current proposal would advance diversity for women and minority communities and hold companies currently listed to higher standards. However, it falls short by failing to include people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, who make up more than 60 percent and 12 percent of the US population, respectively.
The unemployment rate for people with disabilities or those who are chronically ill is more than double that of non-disabled individuals. Further, more than a third of skilled disabled Americans are actively seeking work. By expanding its diversity proposal to include Americans with disabilities and chronic illness, Nasdaq could play a monumental role in redefining what it means to be inclusive, increasing representation, and helping reduce the employment gap for millions of people with disabilities across the country.
The best part is it would actually be good for America’s economy. Research from Accenture and the American Association of People with Disabilities showed that in 2019, companies that created inclusive work environments were twice as likely to have higher total shareholder returns than their competitors. At 22 years old, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and was forced to decide between my health and my career. Disappointed by the lack of workplace opportunities for people like me, I founded Chronically Capable. With more than 45,000 chronically ill and disabled professionals now part of our community, we are helping break down barriers and developing a world of disability and chronic illness inclusion.
Like many of my community members, I was initially ecstatic about Nasdaq’s historic diversity proposal but disappointed in its lack of awareness about the full breadth of discrimination that exists in corporate culture.
With unprecedented new realities facing the disability and chronic illness communities, we ask Nasdaq as one of the most powerful global stock exchanges to include disability as part of its proposal and empower businesses to join the fight towards inclusion and equality for all.
The time to act is now.
Hannah Rose Olson
CEO, Chronically Capable