Rochester's biggest employer added another feather to its cap earlier this week.

Mayo Clinic was one of 42 companies in the country to receive a perfect score on the inaugural Disability Equality Index score in a survey conducted by the U.S. Business Leadership Network and the American Association of People With Disabilities.

The survey sought feedback from Fortune 1,000 companies and resulted in Mayo being recognized on the "2016 DEI Best Places to Work" list. Others that posted a perfect 100 on the Disability Equality Index include Charter Communications, Wells Fargo, Walmart, Starbucks, United Airlines and others.

"It is an honor for Mayo Clinic to be recognized among the leaders in disability-inclusion practices," said Sharonne Hayes, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist who is also director of Mayo's Office of Diversity and Inclusion. "Mayo prides itself on bringing healing, hope and inclusiveness for not just our patients, but our employees, as well."

More broadly speaking, Mayo has been ranked among the Top 100 places to work by Fortune for 13 straight years. It checked in at No. 86 this spring, down 13 spots from 2015.

The new index focused on four categories during its analysis of popular companies. They included culture and leadership, enterprise-wide access, employment practices, and community engagement and support services.

Two keys programs helped Mayo score well on the new index. The Disability Mayo Employee Resource Group is credited with improving the work environment and patient experience, while the long-standing Return to Work Program continues to assist sick or injured employees during their transition back to work.

"We look at retention of employees with disabilities as just as important as hiring and recruiting employees with disabilities," said Jane Ryan, section head of the Return to Work program. "Our job is to find out what the obstacles are and to find a solution."

Past chair of the Disability Mayo Employee Resource Group Kristi Carrington added: "(It) gives a voice to people's concerns and stories, lets people know it's OK to talk about having a disability, and how change can be initiated. I think that's one of the best things about Mayo — we have so many resources internally that we can really make things happen."

The DEI is a joint initiative of the U.S. Business Leadership Network and the American Association of People With Disabilities. It was introduced in 2012, piloted the next yearend officially launched in the fall of 2014.

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