Closing the disability inclusion gap with Business Leadership

29 Jan 2021

We’re closing the disability inclusion gap through the power of business leadership

With more than 400 committed members driving impact in 35 countries, The Valuable 500 is now the largest global network of CEOs committed to disability inclusion.

The impact.

Over 1.3 billion people live with some form of disability, representing 17% of the global population. This is the largest minority group worldwide.

Our Valuable 500 initiative helps companies become a tipping point for change, unlocking the business, social and economic value of the 1.3 billion people worldwide who have a disability.

Companies involved commit to putting disability on the business leadership agenda, increasing their organization’s confidence and competence in disability inclusion. More than 400 committed companies are currently members of The Valuable 500, driving impact in 35 countries. This group brings the combined revenue of The Valuable 500’s current members to over $5.4 trillion, with over 14.8 million employees.

“There is an inequality crisis around disability, you’re 50% less likely to get a job and you’re 50% more likely to experience poverty and that cannot be resolved in the world with just governments or charity, you need business at the table.”

Caroline Casey, Founder Valuable500

Japan’s biggest private foundation, The Nippon Foundation, is investing $5 million, to enable The Valuable 500 to launch Phase 2 of its global campaign designed to activate the community of 500 CEOs and brands for global change. This figure represents the largest ever single investment into disability business inclusion, and comes as the International Disability Alliance joins the Forum as a new high impact partner.

The Valuable 500 is now the largest global network of CEOs committed to disability inclusion.

What's the challenge?

People with disabilities often lack access to employment. The current global employment rate for disabled people is just half that of non-disabled people. People with disabilities who are employed often experience unequal hiring and promotion standards, unequal pay for equal work and occupational segregation. Only 4% of businesses are focused on making offerings inclusive of disability.

There is a strong business case for strengthening inclusion of people with disabilities. The cost of excluding people with disabilities represents up to 7% of GDP in some countries. With 28% higher revenue, double net income, 30% higher profit margins, and strong next generation talent acquisition and retention, a disability-inclusive business strategy promises a significant return on investment.

Our approach.

The Valuable 500 initiative was launched at our Annual Meeting in 2019 with the objective of setting a new global standard for workplace equality and disability inclusion.

Members are already making progress through initiatives including the extensive use of captioning, the inclusion of disability in diversity, equity and inclusion agendas, and increased adoption of digital accessibility best practice.

Companies are making tangible commitments towards disability inclusion. For example, in October 2020, Microsoft released its annual diversity and inclusion report including U.S. disability representation for the first time. In Autumn 2020, Zoom released new accessibility features, including closed captioning, alongside the screen reader support. Meanwhile, Google and Citi Group have both released an annual diversity report, providing transparency on the current state of affairs, both where progress is made, and where there is more work to be done.

Leveraging the collective force of committed businesses, The Valuable 500 work together to:

* Provide peer support to executive business leaders, helping them increase their confidence and competence in disability inclusion

* Provide tools for companies to advance their work on diversity and inclusion

* Share best practices and benchmarks to assist companies in meeting their commitments and responsibilities to disability inclusion.

The Valuable 500 equips signatories with the tools and information required to embed inclusivity across their businesses. Research has been a big focus with the movement collaborating with Global Data to produce the world’s first series of Global Disability Trend Reports which track global progress on disability inclusion across business leadership, culture, and brand. A lack of comparable data on disability and evidence on programmes that work can impede understanding and action. Understanding the numbers of people with disabilities and their circumstances can improve efforts to remove disabling barriers.

How can you get involved?

Companies are invited to join The Valuable 500 and become part of a coalition accelerating disability inclusion, gaining access to a network of companies and their knowledge in strengthening internal strategies, governance, innovation and disability inclusion in the workforce.

The initiative originates from the World Economic Forum’s New Economy and Society Platform, which is focused on building prosperous, inclusive and just economies and societies. In addition to its work on economic growth, revival and transformation, work, wages and job creation, and education, skills and learning, the Platform takes an integrated and holistic approach to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, and aims to tackle exclusion, bias and discrimination related to race, gender, ability, sexual orientation and all other forms of human diversity.

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