Richard Branson, Paul Polman and other global leaders unite for disability inclusion

#Valuable movement backed by Branson, Polman, Riccio

A group of high-profile global business leaders and companies have committed to take accountability for disability inclusion in business by supporting #valuable – a worldwide call to action for business to recognise the value and worth of the one billion disabled people globally.

To drive forward this change, global business leaders, including Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson, Unilever’s Paul Polman and Omnicom’s Janet Riccio, have committed to be accountable for disability within their businesses and across their full supply chain. They are the first to support the #valuable campaign, helping to put disability inclusion on the international business agenda, and keep it there.

Founder of #valuable, Caroline Casey, commented: “Disability inclusion is an issue that has been pushed to the sidelines of business for far too long. Momentum is now building and we have reached a tipping point. We’re delighted that the World Economic Forum have announced that the need to bolster inclusion of those living with a disability will be a main message at Davos in 2019.”

Virgin Media and Omnicom have become strategic partners of #valuable, representing a major milestone for the campaign which continues to be at the forefront of the global conversation around disability inclusion.

Branson’s Virgin Media has joined forces with the disability equality charity, Scope, to support a million disabled people to get and stay in work by the end of 2020.

The business is also transforming its workplaces, practices and policies for disabled employees and customers. As a key partner of the #valuable movement, Virgin Media will encourage UK business leaders to join its campaign to create workplaces where disabled people can thrive.

Omnicom will take the lead in spreading the message of disability inclusion in business and igniting a global conversation about a world where everyone is valued equally. Omnicom has long supported its employees by creating a diverse and inclusive environment that nurtures their creative energy. That means diversity in backgrounds, race, gender, age and experience, as well as embracing those with disabilities.

#Valuable has also announced that it has joined forces with the World Economic Forum, which announced last week that disability inclusion will form part of its annual meeting agenda for the first-time next month. As part of its focus on bolstering inclusion for the one billion people in the world living with a disability, the World Economic Forum will announce its official support of #valuable.

The organization has also teamed up with a range of experts who will lend their skills and experience to #valuable’s mission to activate the business community to tackle disability exclusion around the world. They already include the ILO GBDN, The Marketing Society, Business Disability Forum, EY and Ruh Global.

Launched in 2017, #valuable is a catalyst for an inclusion revolution that exists to position disability equally on the global business leadership agenda. It is spearheaded by award-winning activist, social entrepreneur and Binc founder Casey, who is registered blind.

Today, according to the organization, over one billion people across the world live with some form of disability – 15% of the global population, or one in seven people – but their value is routinely ignored by businesses, equivalent to disregarding a potential market the size of US, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan combined.

Of those one billion, 80% of disabilities are acquired later in life, and the ageing global population means the prevalence of disability is on the rise.

The current global employment rate for disabled people is half that of non-disabled people, a gap that has widened since 2010. According to the World Health Organisation, up to half of businesses in OECD countries choose to pay fines rather than meet quotas on disability.

Yet, combined with their friends, families and communities, the one billion disabled people hold a disposable annual income of $8tn a year – an opportunity that business cannot afford to ignore.

Polman commented: “Creating a more inclusive world for the 1.3 billion people in the world with a disability is not just the right thing to do, it also makes a lot of business sense. To create real traction in this space, we need a movement in which Business takes leadership and authentic action to move the needle for this large section of humanity. This issue has my personal commitment and hence my support for Caroline Casey, one of WEF’s first Young Global Leaders with a disability and founder of the global campaign #valuable. It is critical now, that we make visible the 1.3 billion people in the world with a disability in the business ecosystem and most vital that it is discussed by Business Leadership across all industries.

#Valuable is calling on businesses around the globe to put disability on their agenda. I am proud to say Unilever is already fully on-board with a commitment to hire 8,000 additional disabled people.”

Jeff Dodds, managing director, Virgin Media, added: “At Virgin Media we celebrate the fact that everyone is different. It’s these differences that help us to come up with new and innovative ideas and better address the needs of the customers and communities we serve.”

Janet Riccio, executive vice president of Omnicom Group and Dean of Omnicom University, commented: “I am proud to join forces with such an incredible group of people who are advancing a cause so near to my heart. #valuable is challenging the business world to take a second look at its definition of ‘inclusivity’ and commit itself to a population of people whose talent, perspective and ideas have often been untapped yet have the potential to propel industries forward. Omnicom is committed to elevating this issue to a priority place on its agenda and remaining an ally of this important movement.”

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