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

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

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

Charlie’s tragedy energized deeper feelings amongst Europeans; back to basics?

Environment Committee MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

A new Europe for people, planet and prosperity for all

A Sting Exclusive, the European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger writes for the Sting on “EU Industry: a major energizer”

Eurozone’s central bank leadership prepares for shoddier prospects

How to survive and thrive in our age of uncertainty

Colombia: Santos thanks the EU for its support to the peace process

MWC 2016 LIVE: Qualcomm looks to pick up Hamilton’s winning ways

Migration crisis, a human crisis after all

Embracing the diversity in a multicultural city of Romania

When is Berlin telling the truth about the EU banking union?

Civilians suffering due to sanctions must be spared ‘collective punishment’ urges UN rights expert

Technology can help us save the planet. But more than anything, we must learn to value nature

UN agency plan tackles ‘hidden cost’ of gold, paves way for safer, mercury-free mining

What would happen if we removed cars from cities?

EU and China resolve amicably solar panel trade dispute

This is how AI in video games will change the future of work

Medical workforce migration in Europe – Is it really a problem?

Why the world is not as globalized as you think

Torture is unacceptable and unjustified ‘at all times’ underscore top UN officials

Banks must take bold action to fight climate change. This is how they can do it

How close is the new financial Armageddon? IMF gives some hints

Sudan: Health challenges in the Sustainable Development Goals era

Will the French let Macron destroy their party political system?

Online shopping across the EU to be easier from 3 December

Migration crisis update: What are the chances of a fair deal at this EU Summit?

Facilitating the access to finance and risk capital for SMEs and midcaps

How blockchain can cut the cost of new medicine

The Stray

‘Exercise restraint’ Guterres urges Sri Lankans, as political crisis deepens

Top UN officials strongly condemn ‘horrible terrorist act’ in Nairobi

How drones can manage the food supply chain and tell you if what you eat is sustainable

Which EU countries have to correct their economic policies?

IMF: When high yield goes boom

A day that Berlin and Brussels would remember for a long time

UN, Egypt help avert another Israel-Palestine war in Gaza that was ‘minutes away’, Security Council hears

Fail fast, fail better: 3 ways companies can master innovation

Markets are more sensitive to Greece’s woes than Merkel

Draghi’s top new year resolution: Quantitative Easing

The Cold War had an unintended side effect: It created a European wildlife paradise

Banking on sunshine: world added far more solar than fossil fuel power generating capacity in 2017

EU presses India for a free trade agreement

Yemen bus attack just the latest outrage against civilians: UN agencies

Reception conditions for asylum-seekers agreed between MEPs and Council

‘We must fight terrorism together’ without sacrificing legal and human rights, declares UN chief

China is adding a London-sized electric bus fleet every five weeks

EU and India re-open talks over strategic partnership while prepare for a Free Trade Agreement

COP21 Breaking News_12 December: Another sleepless night for the negotiators before Indaba meeting

Technology is delivering better access to financial services. Here’s how

A new world that demands new doctors in the fourth industrial revolution

Eurozone’s north-south growth gap to become structural

Brain Drain remains a crucial and unresolved issue

Why the UN is investigating poverty in the United Kingdom

Failing to agree climate action would ‘not only be immoral’ but ‘suicidal’, UN chief tells COP24

Sudan: UN rights chief alarmed over ‘excessive force’, alleged use of live fire against protestors

Why is Grexit again in the news? Who is to pay for Eurozone’s banking problems?

First aid in six months reaches families in western Yemen, ‘timelines’ slip over Hudaydah ceasefire talks

Africa Forum aims to boost business, reduce costs, help countries trade out of poverty

The deforestation risks lurking in the banking sector

The new general election will secure Greece’s position in Eurozone; at least for some time

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