University of Illinois at Chicago
MULLIN-DISSERTATION-2023.pdf (931.61 kB)

Disability and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Organizational Settings During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Download (931.61 kB)
posted on 2023-08-01, 00:00 authored by Courtney Mullin
Companies have traditionally struggled to create disability inclusive workplaces, though in recent years there has been an increase in interest and prevalence of organizations engaging in practices to support employees with disabilities. Several practices are embedded within company initiatives through diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategies, which are designated engagement efforts focused on creating workplaces where all employees and potential employees are able to fully access opportunities and participate in company culture. DEI efforts have potential to support disability inclusion practices, however changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic deeply influenced the ways that workers and employers considered workplaces and jobs. While the pandemic impacted people from across the world, varying demographic and identity groups seemed to experience unique challenges in employment, including people with disabilities. Through mixed methodology, this manuscript investigates the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact on distinct experiences of workers with disabilities and disability inclusion strategies and approaches taken by large organizations. A review of 2020/2021 corporate social responsibility reports from large businesses known for their disability inclusion initiatives, showcase the evolution of disability inclusion strategies over time as well as highlight potential future practices to promote disability inclusive workplaces. Further exploration through semi-structured interviews with disability inclusion champions and employees with disabilities uncover how workers with disabilities were affected by business responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings of this research add to the expanding body of literature on disability employment and contribute to the awareness and recognition of disability inclusive workplace policies and practices. This growth in understanding can be used to support and advance disability employment outcomes overall.



Parker Harris, Sarah


Parker Harris, Sarah


Disability and Human Development

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Heller, Tamar Gould, Robert Labbé, Delphine Imparato, Andy

Submitted date

August 2023

Thesis type



  • en

Usage metrics


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager