The Harkin Institute
The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement is located at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and serves as a catalyst for dynamic non-partisan research, learning, and outreach to promote understanding of policy issues ranging from disability policy to employment and labor to wellness and nutrition. The specific focus of the engagement with MovingWorlds is fostering competitive, integrated employment for persons with disabilities - meaning they have the same employment opportunities as non disabled persons, enjoy equal compensation, have access to mentoring and career growth, and are represented and every level of of the organization, including the board of directors and the c-suite. The value proposition of competitive, integrated employment is clear - companies that foster an inclusive culture can access a global market of persons with disabilities roughly the size of China and with the spending power just about the size of the EU economy.
The premise of Robert Ludke's fellowship with The Harkin Institute (THI) is that investors are uniquely positioned to foster competitive, integrated employment across the private sector through their engagement with boards and executive leadership as part of their engagement efforts on environment, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Ludke's work fellowship has generated the following outcomes:
- Provided a roadmap with a number of companies that closely work with THI to integrate disability inclusion more fully into the business, with the tools to measure impact and outcomes.
- Ongoing advice and councel to organizations in the financial services sector in disability inclusion strategies.
- Published two research papers that present a case for the long-term value creating potential of competitive, integrated employment and the business case for linking that to ESG efforts. Those papers are the first of their kind research.
- Presented research at a variety of global venues, such as the Zero Project Annual Conference, WEF annual meeting, The Harkin Summit.
- Ongoing thought leadership content published in a variety of publications (including Bloomberg) and on podcast hosted by investors.
- Created a 7 part virtual panel series that ran throughout 2021 which brought together the disability movement, the private sector, and the investor community to find common ground for integrating competitive, integrated employment into ESG engagement strategies and long-term business strategy.