Businesses can lead a revolution in disability inclusion

disabilities china

(Unsplash, 2018)

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Caroline Casey, Founder, #valuable


‘Follow the Leader’, the childhood game usually reserved for the playground, now has the power to inspire a revolution of inclusion.

History has shown that when business leads by example (e.g. the green movement) – taking decisive steps and agreeing to be held accountable for their actions and achievements – society follows and real positive social change happens worldwide.

That’s why last year we launched #valuable – a global call to action for businesses and brands to recognise the worth and value of the one billion people living with a disability around the world, and to put disability inclusion on the global business leadership agenda.

Image: Christian Blind Mission

Since launch, #valuable has reached over 810 million people and garnered the support of business leaders, including the outgoing chief executive of Unilever Paul Polman. But there is still a long way to go until an inclusion revolution is truly realized.

Today is the International Day of People with Disabilities, this year focused on empowerment and inclusivity, which we believe needs to be driven by business leadership.

The scale of modern companies makes them key allies in achieving greater inclusivity. Consider the fact that, out of the world’s top 100 economies, 31 are countries while a whopping 69 are corporations. Apple alone has more cash than 141 countries.

Trying to tackle inclusivity issues without businesses front and centre would be like trying to use your smartphone screen with a gloved hand: you’ll be up close and personal with what you’re trying to do, but you’ll fumble and ultimately fail.

Inclusivity is good for business

Over the last 30 years, business has embraced its social purpose. From innovating to tackle climate change, to addressing the gender diversity gap, business has demonstrated its ability to move the dial on the globe’s most pressing issues. Now is the time to make disability inclusion everyone’s business.

Today, one billion people across the world live with some form of disability – 15% of the global population, or 1 in 7 people – but their value is routinely ignored by business. That is equivalent to disregarding a potential market the size of the US, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan combined.

Gone are the days when inclusivity action was a ‘nice-to-have’ or a bolt-on CSR initiative from businesses. Combined with their friends, families and communities, the one billion disabled people around the world have a disposable annual income of $8 trillion a year – an opportunity that business cannot afford to ignore. This is the era of inclusion as a strategic business driver.

We have arrived at a zeitgeist moment for inclusion. From the UK’s recent landmark debate on gender recognition, to worldwide campaigns raising awareness of equal pay, and the great work of disability activists like Sinead Burke, the arena for change is broad and there are signs of positive progress.

Burke, an educator and inclusion advocate, who made the cover of Business of Fashion this year, works at the nexus of fashion and business to urge brands to appreciate the commercial imperative of engaging the physically disabled.

But we cannot pursue ‘a la carte’ inclusion and think it’s going to fix things. That means companies cannot pick and choose what they want to engage with, because true inclusion means including everyone.

Setting the agenda

At #valuable, we have engaged corporate partners and business leaders who put their money where their mouth is, and we’ll be working together to ensure inclusion is top of the business leadership agenda in 2019.

To achieve this, we need to ensure inclusivity is front and centre at the major business conferences and forums. For years it has been overlooked and ignored at such gatherings. Largely this is due to a widespread misunderstanding of the significant return on investment that action on inclusion holds.

We are proud to see the World Economic Forum committing a greater focus on inclusion in 2019, a move that will be transformational for disability inclusion. I am confident that when more business leaders hear about the commercial benefits of inclusion, they will be converts to the cause.

The 2018 International Day of People with Disabilities is a professional and personal milestone for me. It falls 30 years after I first discovered I was visually impaired at the age of 17, a revelation that led me to hiding my disability at work for years, thanks to a poignant cocktail of fear, pride and shame.

I now understand that you can only reach your potential when you are true to yourself. When I became a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2006, I made a promise to myself that I would put disability and inclusion at the centre of the Davos debate. This is what led to the launch of #valuable and our campaigning belief in the inclusion revolution.

This is therefore a rallying cry to business leaders and brands to release the potential of 1 billion people. And it is our way of urging the World Economic Forum to put business accountability for inclusion centre stage at Davos 2019.

We are arriving at a historic crossroads. The way the world turns will hold consequences for us all. If we can urge business to take the lead on inclusion in all its forms, then I am certain society will follow. If we get this right, the results will be revolutionary and rewarding. It will transform our notion of self-acceptance and society’s attitude to difference. In doing so, it will positively change the world for everyone.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Online platforms: improving transparency and fairness for EU businesses

US – Russia bargain on Syria, Ukraine but EU kept out

This is Amsterdam’s ambitious plan to turn its transport electric

China hails human rights progress amid calls to close detention camps

Our health systems are under pressure. Here are 9 ways to remedy that

“BEUC cautions against TTIP that would seek to align EU and US chemicals management frameworks”

Macron in St. Petersburg didn’t oppose Trump on Iran, in Putin’s presence

Radioactive nuclear waste is a global threat. These scientists may have a new solution

Towards a seamless internal EU market for industrial goods

UN food relief agency airlifts aid to DR Congo province hit by Ebola outbreak

UN chief and senior officials show solidarity with DR Congo during three-day visit

Children are so hungry in one British town they are eating from bins

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

Support for EU remains at historically high level despite sceptics

Available mental health services: is it only about professionals or institutions?

Gender parity can boost economic growth. Here’s how

An alternative to the future of antimicrobial therapy

The unpleasant truth of plastic straws

North Korean families facing deep ‘hunger crisis’ after worst harvest in 10 years, UN food assessment shows

UN standing with Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique as Southern Africa death toll from deadly cyclone mounts

Security spillovers from Trump’s trade wars: China, Germany prepare for global disorder

We won’t win the online security war without people power

Global climate change: consequences for human health in Brazilian cities

Brexit: EP Group leaders support a flexible extension until 31/1/20

Can the EU really make Google and Facebook pay publishers and media?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution must not leave farming behind

UN chief welcomes agreement by rival leaders in South Sudan, as a step towards ‘inclusive and implementable’ peace

Is co-living an answer to the affordable housing crisis?

World ‘not yet on track’ to ensure children a better future: UN rights chief

Mandela, ‘true symbol of human greatness’, celebrated on centenary of his birth

Vaccination: European Commission and World Health Organization join forces to promote the benefits of vaccines

South Korea once recycled 2% of its food waste. Now it recycles 95%

Service and Sacrifice: Malaysian peacekeepers in Lebanon proud to serve their homeland and the United Nations

Is Eurozone heading for disinflation?

3 natural mysteries that could be explained by quantum physics

As Yemen relief operations face funding gap, timing of surge in violence ‘couldn’t be worse’

How solar is powering the Middle East towards renewables

Protecting whistle-blowers: new EU-wide rules approved

Charles Michel advocates a strong Europe that acts where it can add real value

Guterres calls for ‘maximum restraint’ following drone assault on key Saudi oil facility

Global hunger is on the rise. These simple steps could help eradicate it

Here are 5 reasons why the ocean is so important

The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) on the arrest of Turkish Medical Association leaders

Safer products: stepping up checks and inspections to protect consumers

Why sustainable products are a win-win for all of us

This woman solved one of the biggest problems facing green energy

EU attempts to make new deal with Turkey as relations deteriorate

OECD leading multilateral efforts to address tax challenges from digitalisation of the economy

Fragile countries risk being ‘stuck in a cycle of conflict and climate disaster,’ Security Council told

We don’t need to ban plastic. We just need to start using it properly

Mali facing ‘alarming’ rise in rights violations, warns UN expert

No barriers to free flow of non-personal data in the EU

MEPs oppose EU Commission plans to authorise three herbicide-resistant GMOs

Can elections in Italy and Germany derail Eurozone?

Discovering Europe: Free EU rail pass for 18 year olds

A silent killer: the impact of a changing climate on health

DR Congo: days ahead ‘critical’ to ‘historic election process’ Security Council hears

Financial services: Commission sets out its equivalence policy with non-EU countries

Climate change: Will COP23 be able to accelerate the implementation of the Paris agreement?

Stricter rules to stop terrorists from using homemade explosives

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s