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  • Meg O'Connell

Is Disability Inclusion On Your Company’s Agenda?

Updated: May 20

It is said that big change doesn’t happen unless businesses get involved. We’ve seen this with many global initiatives like recycling, reducing poverty, improving access to education, and increasing diversity.


This week we will celebrate the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and while there is much to celebrate, it is surprising to see companies are still hesitant to adopt disability as part of their diversity programs. An amazing 96% of global companies state they have diversity on their agenda, but only 4% have disability on their agenda.


If you haven’t seen the video Diversish (pronounced Diverse..ish), it is a must see. It reminds me of something you’d see on SNL…pretty funny, and seems unreal. And while this is a parody, as a corporate disability inclusion expert I can tell you I have had these types of conversations with many leaders. And the most frequently asked question is, “What is the business case for disability inclusion?”


The satirical video delivers one clear message aimed directly at CEOs and executive leadership:

“If disability is not on your board agenda, neither is diversity.”


So, let’s answer the business case question. There are 1.3 Billion people across the world living with a disability; this is 15% of the global population. People with disabilities represent a global spending power of $1 trillion. However, when you include family members, friends, and allies that number jumps to $8 Trillion.


Please read that twice.


If 15% of a company’s consumers, employees, and shareholders have a disability, an appropriate follow-up question to pose to every CEO about whether disability is on their board agenda is: “If not, why not?”


As a consumer and shareholder myself, I would expect that every CEO be apprised of these facts about disability inclusion, and act upon them.


Disability is starting to get some global recognition. At this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January, disability took center stage for the first time in history when leadership from some of the biggest brands in the world came together to discuss disability, including leaders from Accenture, P&G, Unilever, and Bloomberg.


The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting was also the official launch of The Valuable 500.


The Valuable 500 is a B2B global initiative seeking to put disability on business leaders’ agendas for 2019, and beyond. Over 220 companies have signed up to date. The “ask” to CEOs is quite simple: Commit to one action item this year. CEOs from Microsoft, Google, Barclays. EY, Manpower, Unilever, and Accenture, and 220 others (and counting), have already made the commitment.


Any organizational transformation, or adoption of a new initiative, is only effective if there is sustainable step change. So CEOs, this July 26th, let your organization know this is the year you will put disability inclusion as a strategic priority for your employees and your customers. Join The Valuable 500, contact me directly at meg@globaldisabilityinclusion.com, or click here to visit The Valuable 500 website to learn more.

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