Businesses champion disability inclusion on 75th anniversary of UNGA

Global businesses AGL Energy, Daimler, DuPont, Financial Times, B&Q and Verizon sign up to putting disability inclusion on their board agenda

Global disability inclusion movement The Valuable 500 has gained the support of a further 32 bring the total to 326 international businesses which have now pledged to place disability inclusion on their business leadership agendas.

The latest companies to join the movement come from across industries and all four corners of the world, including Australia, Japan, South America, Middle East, Europe, India and the USA. It brings the combined revenue of The Valuable 500’s current members to over $4.5 trillion, encompassing 55 sectors, with over 11.9 million employees in 31 countries.

Those signing up include:

Addleshaw Goddard, AGL, Al Baraka Banking Group, ANZ, B&Q, Brenntag, British Land, Capgemini Group, Compass Group, Daimler, DNP Group, DuPont, Ecopetrol SA, Endesa, FT, Gin Group, Ipsos MORI, Kurt Geiger, LSEG, Macquarie Group, Nissan Motor GB, OM Metals, Pets at home, RELX, SEGA SAMMY HOLDINGS, INC., SHOWA DENKO KK, Sumitomo Life, Travis Perkins plc, Urban Research Co., Ltd, Verizon, Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Yomiuri Shimbun.

The Valuable 500 announced the new pledges during the 75th anniversary of the United Nation’s General Assembly and the 10-year count down to the completion of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Disability is included in five of the UN’s SDGs, including Goal 8, promoting inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment allowing persons with disabilities to access the job market fully, and Goal 10, emphasising the social, economic and political inclusion of persons with disabilities. ‘Persons with disabilities’ or ‘disability’ are specifically mentioned 11 times throughout the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Disability-inclusive SDGs

While calling on businesses to ensure disability-inclusive SDGs are at the heart of their post-COVID-19 recovery plans, Caroline Casey, Founder of The Valuable 500, said: “Disability inclusion is not simply a ‘nice to have’, it is critical to achieving a significant proportion of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

“Considering this, it is more imperative than ever that businesses globally look to regroup and revaluate for post-COVID-19 recovery, ensuring achieving the SDGs as a collective is embedded within their leadership agendas. 

Casey wants businesses to take disability inclusion beyond a diversity and inclusion initiative to be an integral part of their business sustainability agenda and instrumental in helping them meet several of the SDGs. 

“This will mean unlocking the talent and potential of a vast community who can significantly contribute to the work being done to meet SDGs across industries globally,” she said. “We must also not overlook the key issue of intersectionality between gender, race, class, disability. We cannot prioritise one above the other when they intersect and impact daily.”

Casey added: “We are delighted to see the momentum of the sign up to The Valuable 500 continuing throughout the global pandemic, demonstrating that businesses are listening and taking action to create a more inclusive society globally. We wholeheartedly welcome the latest members joining, at this critical tipping point as a business is presented with a unique opportunity to remould and remake itself.”

As we come within a decade of the deadline for completing the goals, there are still huge strides to be made. The pandemic has only further widened inequalities with fear of increased poverty, further impact on the environment and a moving away from achieving the goals.  

The Valuable 500

The Valuable 500’s goal is critical to meeting the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as currently, 15% of people worldwide live with some form of disability. When you include the families of those living with a disability, this number rises significantly to 53%. 

Businesses cannot afford to exclude such a huge market comprising of talented employees. They can contribute significantly to the business sustainability agenda, and are valuable customers with a significant spending power of $8 trillion per annum.  

Sanda Ojiambo, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, said: “One of the key pillars of the United Nations Global Compact is Social Sustainability, and within this, a cornerstone is focused on people with disabilities. With 1.3 billion people globally, we cannot afford to ignore them, and business is at the heart of ensuring inclusion for all. 

“The Valuable 500’s bold ambition has paved the way for us all to realise business can and needs to be inclusive, and this needs to happen now. With this global collective, now celebrating 326 businesses committing to disability inclusion from over 30 countries, I am optimistic that we will reach a point where global business integrates the SDGs into their core business strategies and operations to achieve a world where everyone is included.”

Tipping point

By engaging the most influential business leaders and brands, The Valuable 500 is working to create a tipping point that unlocks the business, social and economic value of the 1.3 billion people living with disabilities around the world. 

Brett Redman, CEO and Managing Director of AGL Energy, said: “We’re proud to be the first Australian energy company to join The Valuable 500’s global CEO collective focussing on improving disability inclusion. At AGL, we’re committed to building a safe and inclusive work environment for all our people – including those who identify as having a disability.  

“We recently launched our new Disability Action Plan and Disability Working Group, which are helping us drive important programs and initiatives across the business. We look forward to standing alongside The Valuable 500 to take a stand on this important initiative within the energy industry, and society more broadly.” 

Inclusive culture

Graham Bell, CEO of B&Q, said: “We’re committed to making B&Q a more inclusive place to work and shop for both our colleagues and customers and pledge to make it easier for everyone to access their home improvement needs.  

“B&Q is a Level Two, Disability Confident Employer; joining The Valuable 500 is the next step on our disability inclusion journey, and we are proud to be launching the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard scheme across all our stores. We know there’s more work to be done and we’re committed to keeping diversity and inclusion firmly on our board agenda and taking action to create an accessible and inclusive work and retail environment for everyone.”

John Ridding, CEO of the Financial Times, commented: “At the FT we are committed to building a fully inclusive culture and giving our people the support they need to grow and thrive at work. Disability inclusion is firmly on our leadership agenda, and we are proud to take part in The Valuable 500.”

Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon, said: “At Verizon, we create the networks that move the world forward, but we cannot fulfil our purpose if any member of society is left behind. Technology has the power to connect and enhance the lives of all people, including the one billion individuals living with disabilities.

“That’s why we are proud to join the Valuable 500 to drive sustainable innovation and equitable growth with the expertise of the disability community at the forefront. Together, we can build a future where everyone is included.”
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