Major names rally behind global disability discrimination campaign

Employment & Skills | International | National
Caroline Casey, Founder of The Valuable 500.
Caroline Casey, Founder of The Valuable 500. Photo: Jack Caffrey

Two hundred major international companies have now signed up to a campaign aiming to end workplace disability discrimination for employees and clients.

The Valuable 500 initiative chose the International Day of Persons with Disabilities to reveal the landmark in a campaign which is growing fast – an additional company has joined the movement every day over the past month.

Brands now confirmed as part of The Valuable 500 include Aviva, British Airways, BT, Tesco, Vodafone, Aviva, Lloyd’s of London, McLaren Racing, ITV and The European Space Agency.

Caroline Casey, Founder of The Valuable 500, said: “There are 1.3 billion disabled people in the world, with a market opportunity of $8 trillion.

“Business leaders have underestimated their value for too long, and it is fantastic to see that business leaders globally are committing to take tangible action for disability inclusion.

“Today’s announcement on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities shows huge momentum and we are delighted to welcome such a variety of companies to our campaign.

“We commend the 200 CEOs and brands who are leading the way in creating an inclusive workplace by signing up to The Valuable 500. They are an example to other businesses within their sectors, and I hope they help to encourage their peers to follow suit.”

Launched at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Summit in January, The Valuable 500 calls on 500 global businesses to commit to placing disability inclusion on their board agendas, making a firm commitment to eradicating the exclusion of disabled people in business.

Companies have committed from all corners of the globe including the UK, Japan, India, France, Brazil, Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Egypt, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Indonesia, Russia, the USA and Switzerland.

At least another 100 are expected to join the initiative in the next few months.

Alex Cruz, Chairman and CEO, British Airways, says the firm’s involvement reflects efforts made to embrace inclusivity in its practises.

He said: “I am really proud of the strides British Airways is making to support customers requiring additional assistance, from our investment in enhanced staff training to the dedicated customer team which, having been in place just two months, has already doubled customer satisfaction levels for the customers they are supporting.

“We know travelling with a hidden or visible disability can be difficult, so through signing this pledge we are making a commitment to get this right for our customers, and providing reassurance that we will do all we can to make their journey easy and stress-free.”

Dave Lewis, CEO of Tesco, agrees. He said: “It’s really important that everyone feels welcome at Tesco, whether they are shopping or working with us.

“Disability inclusion has been on our agenda for a long time, and we’ve already taken action, including the introduction of changing places toilets in our stores, and diversity and inclusion training for all of our managers.

“Today we have also announced that we are rolling out sunflower lanyards in every one of our stores across the UK, to help customers with hidden disabilities that may need extra help while shopping.

“We are delighted to be a part of the Valuable 500, sharing our commitment to making Tesco a more accessible place for everyone.

Research by The Valuable 500 shows 15% of the global population lives with some form of disability. This amounts to one in seven people, which the campaign says has traditionally been ‘routinely ignored by business’ – the equivalent to disregarding a market the size of the USA, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan combined.

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