Valuable 500 launches to promote disability inclusion in business

Employment & Skills | Events | South East

A new campaign that will hold global business leaders accountable for disability inclusion in their businesses launched today at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Summit in Davos.

Announced by #valuable founder Caroline Casey at today’s press conference “The Case for Disability Inclusion”, The Valuable 500 will seek 500 global businesses to commit to putting disability on their board agendas in 2019.

The Valuable 500 seeks to tackle the trend for businesses to claim they are diverse, but exclude disability from their definition of diversity. Research by EY commissioned by #valuable has found disability is still woefully absent from the majority of board level discussions globally – with the majority (56%) of global senior executives rarely or never discussing disability on their leadership agendas.

A new campaign by AMV, DIVERSISH, created to mark the launch of The Valuable 500, reveals that while many businesses call themselves diverse, most overlook, ignore or postpone anything to do with disability. The campaign calls for business leaders to stop being diversish – and commit to real accountability and action on disability inclusion.

Founder of #valuable, Caroline Casey, commented: “It’s no longer good enough for companies to say ‘disability doesn’t fit with our brand’ or ‘it’s a good idea to explore next year’. Businesses cannot be truly inclusive if disability is continuingly ignored on leadership agendas.

“I urge businesses to join The Valuable 500 movement to take a stand against being diversish – and instead be the tipping-point for change, and unlock the business, social and economic value of disabled people across the world. We also need brands that are already great examples of inclusive behaviour to show other businesses how it’s done, and help us end à la carte inclusion – because the potential of 1.3 billion should not be ignored.”

The Valuable 500 have announced the first six global businesses to sign up and become members: Unilever, Microsoft, Barclays, Fujitsu, Cinepolis, and Accenture.

Accenture Chief Executive Officer North America Julie Sweet said: “We applaud The Valuable 500 for shining a light on the opportunity to bring more persons with disabilities into the workforce. At Accenture, accelerating disability inclusion is key to our commitment to creating a culture of equality where everyone can advance and thrive, and core to our strategy of being an innovation-led company.”

In addition, The Valuable 500 is also working with a range of experts who will lend their skills and expertise to get the business community to tackle disability exclusion around the world. These regional experts include the ILO GBDN, The Marketing Society, Business Disability Forum, EY, Ruh Global, AXSChat and Purple Space.

#valuable, the organisation behind the launch of The Valuable 500, is supported by a number of high profile businesses and business leaders, including strategic partners Omnicom and Virgin Media, and leaders including Sir Richard Branson, Paul Polman, Janet Riccio and EY Chairman & CEO Mark Weinberger.

These companies and leaders are taking a number of steps to support disability inclusion and equality throughout their businesses.

UK Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton said: “Disabled people have a valuable contribution to make in the workplace, and in 2019 it’s time for businesses across the world to take disability seriously.

“I’m calling on businesses to join The Valuable 500 and lead the way on disability inclusion to show other employers what they’re missing out on.”

#valuable has joined forces with the World Economic Forum this week, as part of this year’s Annual Meeting agenda in which disability inclusion will form a key part. This is the first time that Davos has included disability on the main stage with the support of global business leaders.

Among other highlights of the Forum’s disability inclusion agenda, Caroline Casey and Paul Polman will be joined by Bloomberg Chairman Peter T Grauer; Procter & Gamble Group President, North America, Carolyn Tastad; Accenture CEO North America Julie Sweet; and Tech Mahindra Managing Director and CEO Chander Prakash Gurnani, at an interactive panel entitled The Business Case for Disability Inclusion.

This was the first time in global history that a panel of such business influence has debated how making disabilities a focus is good business practice.

Today, over one billion people across the world live with some form of disability – 15% of the global population, or one in seven people – but their value is routinely ignored by business, equivalent to disregarding a potential market the size of US, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan combined.

The current global employment rate for disabled people is half that of non-disabled people, a gap that has widened since 2010. According to the World Health Organisation, up to half of businesses in OECD countries choose to pay fines rather than meet quotas on disability.

Along with their friends, families and communities, the one billion disabled people worldwide also hold a disposable annual income of $8tn a year, equating to an opportunity that business cannot afford to ignore. Of those one billion, 80% of disabilities are acquired later life, and our ageing global population means the prevalence of disability is on the rise.

#valuable is a catalyst for an inclusion revolution that exists to position disability equally on the global business leadership agenda. It is spearheaded by award-winning activist, social entrepreneur and Binc founder Caroline Casey, who is registered blind.

The Valuable 500 movement starts today, with six exemplar brands having already signed up. There are 365 days left to sign up for the remaining 494 spots.

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