Rich Donovan

Disability and Inclusion Expert

Rich Donovan is CEO of The Return on Disability Group and is a globally recognized subject matter expert on the convergence of disability and corporate profitability. He has spent more than 10 years focused on defining and unlocking the economic value of the disability market. He created the Barclays Return on Disability ETN listed on the New York Stock Exchange on September 11th, 2014 under the ticker RODI. Rich shares his vision for people with disabilities as a powerful force in the global economy in his new book, Unleash Different. Unleash Different can be ordered now at your favorite book retailer. Rich Donovan has been named one of the Top 50 Most Influential People with Disabilities in the world by UK-based Powerful Media and Shaw Trust in October 2016. Rich provides corporate and government clients with insights and tools to frame disability as a global emerging market. His proprietary and proven process translates disability success factors into specific actions that create sustainable value. He is sought by businesses and governments for advice when acting on the disability market. Rich Donovan founded Lime (2006), the leading third party recruiter in the disability space, where he worked with Google, PepsiCo, Merrill Lynch, IBM, TD Bank and others to help them attract top talent from within the disability market. Identified as a best practice by the U.S. Department of Labor and featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lime does one thing very well—find great talent. Rich has a combined 20 years of experience in portfolio and investment risk management. As a Proprietary Trader and Portfolio Manager at Merrill Lynch, Rich Donovan delivered consistent performance results focused on macro strategies with an event-driven overlay, using equity indices as a primary tool. Rich holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BBA from Schulich School of Business at York University. Rich is an avid sailor and proud father of his son, Maverick, along with his wife, Jenn. He also happens to have cerebral palsy.

Topic Presentations

Would it surprise you to learn that the largest economic opportunity facing the world today is disability? In this talk, Rich makes the case that disability directly touches 53% of global consumers and taxpayers – and transforms efforts of charity into the world’s largest emerging market.  He illustrates what the opportunity is, why it exists and how our economic institutions can evolve to capture it to improve their bottom lines while improving the lives of billions of people around the world.


What if companies measured and reported how they impact their relationships with customers and employees before measuring financial performance? In this talk, Rich makes the case that forward looking performance needs new models to set future behavior – he has developed one for disability that can be applied to any market. He shows how measuring the actions of organizations in areas critical to value creation is a better predictor of success than traditional financial analysis alone.

What if social impact could both add to global GDP growth and boost returns for investors like pension and sovereign wealth funds? In this talk, Rich makes the case that it is large institutional investors that drive social change – but they need metrics that prove returns first. He shows how ‘nice’ isn't enough, and reveals why investors need to look at a company's transactions with its customers and talent to drive outperformance.

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Unleash Different: Achieving Business Success Through Disability

If you discovered a new market comprising 53% of the world’s population, would you act to invest in it? There are 1.3 billion people around the world who identify as having a disability. When you include friends and family, the disability market touches 53% of all consumers. It is the world’s largest emerging market. Unleash Different illustrates how companies like Google, PepsiCo, and Nordstrom are attracting people with disabilities as customers and as employees. Replacing “nice to do” with “return on investment” allows market forces to take over and the world’s leading brands to do what they do best: serve a market segment ― in this case, the disability market. Business managers will come to understand how taking a charity-oriented approach to people with disabilities has failed, what action is required to capitalize on the world’s biggest emerging market, and how their organizations can grow revenue and cut costs by attracting people with disabilities as customers and talent. Rich gives the reader a peek into how he rose from a Canadian school for “crippled children” to manage $6 billion for one of Wall Street’s leading firms. He makes it easy to relate to the business goal of serving disability ― because he has actually done it.

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