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 500 committed members driving impact in 36 countries, The Valuable 500 is 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.

All 500 companies involved are publicly committed to putting disability on the business leadership agenda, increasing their organization’s confidence and competence in disability inclusion. Collectively, the group represents over 20 million employees across 36 countries and brings a combined revenue of over USD 8 trillion.

“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, has invested $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 joined the Forum as a high impact partner in the initiative.

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. Although 90% of companies claim to prioritize diversity, 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.

All member companies have made a public commitment to advancing disability inclusion within their organisations, such as Unilever’s commitment to increase the representation of employees with disabilities to 5% by 2025 and Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility built into their products.

Members are already making progress through initiatives including the increased adoption of digital accessibility best practice and the inclusion of disability in diversity, equity and inclusion strategies. For example, 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 aim to create system change through six impact areas: three internal drivers that CEOs can influence within their own organizations: C-Suite, culture and customer, and three external drivers that CEOs can collectively influence beyond their organization: reporting, research and representation.

13 "Iconic Leaders" across The Valuable 500 co-fund, co-build and co-test the programmes and solutions, using their industry experience to help catalyse progress for the entire community. These leaders are Allianz, BBC, Deloitte, EY, Google, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., LSEG, Omnicom, P&G, Salesforce, Sony, Sky and Verizon. Joining these 13 iconic leaders, Apple has become the Iconic partner for Inclusive Design. This will help ensure that The Valuable 500 can drive the highest levels of inclusive design and share that knowledge within the community of members, and beyond.

The Valuable 500 equips signatories with the tools and information required to embed inclusivity across their businesses in these areas. 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 programs 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?

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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