Harkin International Disability Employment Summit

“The unemployment rate among adult Americans with disabilities who want to work and can work is over 60 percent. That is a blot on our national character.” – Senator Tom Harkin in his farewell speech to the U.S. Senate.

The Harkin Summit brings together key champions and implementers from around the world to increase the employment of people with disabilities.

The 2020 Harkin International Disability Employment Summit explored the value of disability inclusion, particularly for businesses and employers.

The challenges and opportunities before us today are clear. We must immediately build back the jobs that were lost or put at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we look to the future, we must permanently fix the system so that disability inclusion moves from an aspirational goal to one that is an accepted and valued component of the business strategy.

The Harkin Institute partnered in offering this Summit with Caroline Casey and her organization, The Valuable 500, a business-to-business initiative catalyzing the influence of large private sector corporations in national and international markets.

New Report: Solving “Then What?”: Empowering Investors to Achieve Competitive, Integrated Employment for Persons with Disabilities

Empowering Investors to Achieve Competitive Integrated Employment for Persons with Disabilities

This white paper explores the role the investor community can play in improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Investors have both the power and the influence to work with the companies they invest in to fully integrate people with disabilities into all levels of their operations – from entry level to executive management. This paper, authored by The Harkin Institute Research Fellow Robert Ludke, provides a blueprint for achieving this.

New Report: Innovative Employment Practices at Work

Celebrating the Efforts of the Harkin Summit Community

The planning partners, speakers, and attendees of The Harkin Summit have formed  a community of practice in promoting competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities. This report shares a collection of innovative employment initiatives from around the world, solicited from past Harkin Summit participants and meant to celebrate the work of this community. Submissions were vetted through a formal review process. This project was led by The Harkin Institute Senior Disability Policy Fellow Julie Christensen.

Watch the 2020 Harkin International Disability Employment Summit

Summit Presenters:

The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement

The Valuable 500

Summit Sponsors:

Ford Foundation

Anthem, Inc.


RWJF Special Contributions Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation


Kessler Foundation

Keystone Human Services

JP Morgan Chase

Drake University

Harkin International Disability Employment Journal 2018

The 2018 Harkin International Disability Employment Journal provides detailed information and takeaways from the the third Harkin Summit, which took place November 15-16, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

2019 Harkin Summit Report

The 2019 Harkin Summit Report summarizes some of the headline messages from this important gathering in Paris, France, April 8-9, 2019.


In November 2017, Senator Tom Harkin (Retired) issued a challenge of doubling the labor force participate rate globally for persons with disabilities in the next decade. The following resources can help organizations fulfill their goal of employment more people with disabilities.

Inclusive Employment: How to develop projects which promote the employment of people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations (2011): This paper applies the mandate and values of Humanity & Inclusion to inclusive employment activities. View report here and brief format here.

Situation of Wage Employment of People with Disabilities: This white paper is based on the results of a qualitative study of Handicap International’s inclusive livelihoods programs in 10 developing countries. The paper’s goal is to increase wage employment of people with disabilities by providing employers with the best practices showcasing successful wage employment facilitated by Handicap International and partner businesses, enterprises, and organizations. View the report here.

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