April 12, 2021

Global businesses sign up to put disability inclusion on their board agendas

Today, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, The Valuable 500 – the largest network of global CEOs committed to diversity – announces the latest businesses to have become members.

This comes as new international data reveals only 3% of media articles discussing diversity referenced disability – and this has only risen by 1% in the last five years. In addition, despite references to ‘disability’ in the media rising by 55% in the last five years, only 1 in 3 articles talking about disability referenced business.

It is clear that while there is a growing increase in awareness around disability inclusion, it is still not as firmly embedded in the diversity & inclusion agenda as it should be and is often a forgotten aspect of this conversation – particularly when it comes to business leadership. The Valuable 500 is working to tackle this critical issue.

Those signing up recently to The Valuable 500 include, Allianz, Allied Irish Banks, American Express, Amplifon UK, Anthem, The Asahi Shimbun Company, Birds Eye, The Clorox Company, Costain Group, DTEK, EDF Energy, ENEOS Holdings, Expedia Group, FARFETCH, FleishmanHillard, Grant Thornton UK LLP, GSMA, Hinduja Global Solutions, Hogan Lovells, Innocent Drinks, Keelings, Kin + Carta, Kmart Australia, L’Oréal, Ottobock SE & Co, Philips, Philip Morris International, PSEG, Regions Bank, Schindler Group, Schroders, Sekisui House, Telstra, ThoughtWorks, Unisys, ViacomCBS Networks UK, Westpac and Wickes.

These latest global companies to join the movement are drawn from across the world, including the USA, Australia, Sweden, India, Japan, Ukraine, Germany, UK and France.

Launched at Davos in January 2019 by Caroline Casey and Paul Polman, The Valuable 500 remains the only global CEO community dedicated to radically transforming the business system across the whole supply chain for the benefit of all those with a disability. In under two years, 360 CEOs have joined this community.

The new sign ups revealed today bring the combined revenue of The Valuable 500’s current members to over $5 trillion, encompassing 55 sectors, with over 12.8 million employees and reaching across 31 countries.

The Valuable 500’s announcements are made on the UN-sanctioned International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as we enter the 10 year countdown to the completion of the UN’s 2030 sustainable development goals. This year in particular, in light of the global pandemic, the day focuses on Building Back Better towards a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world.

The Valuable 500 is calling for a shift in mentality, and for business and society alike to make the next decade the decade of disruption when it comes to inclusion of persons with disabilities. Ensuring disability inclusion is firmly embedded within the whole business supply chain will not be achieved in a single day of awareness – but it can be a critical focus for the next 10 years as the world looks to build back better.

Inclusion of persons with disabilities – referenced in five of the SDGs – and therefore The Valuable 500’s mission – will be integral to meeting the UN’s 2030 agenda in time over the next decade. Currently, 15% of the global population are persons with disabilities. This number increases to 53% when you include the families of persons with disabilities. Businesses cannot afford to exclude such a significant pool of talent, diversity of thought and customers with a spending power of $8 trillion per annum.

This year has prompted much reflection on disability inclusion, from the changes to society COVID-19 has catalysed to it being the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 25th anniversary of Britain’s Disability Discrimination Act. It is now time to look forward and to focus on the impact and change that can be engendered in this space by the deadline for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The Valuable 500 itself is continuing to work to lay the foundations for a more inclusive society over the next decade, as it readies to announce the next phase of its mission in early 2021, looking at six key pillars, three internally in organisations and three externally, so together we can co-create and co-shape the business system to look at how disability is valued within business. The Valuable 500 is also embarking on joint ventures with the International Paralympics Committee.