Sainsbury’s and Omnicom announce firm commitment to disability inclusion

From left: Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever; Caroline Casey, founder of #valuable and The Valuable 500, and Michael Hayman, founder of Seven Hills, on stage at the AWE.

Sainsbury’s and Omnicom demonstrated their commitment to disability inclusion by announcing they have become members of The Valuable 500, a global campaign which strives to place disability at the top of business agendas.

The news was announced by the founder of #valuable and disability activist and social entrepreneur Caroline Casey, who took to the stage at the seventh Advertising Week Europe conference alongside former Unilever CEO Paul Polman, to urge global business leaders to recognise the business case for including the world’s one billion disabled people.

Paying lip service to diversity

During a session entitled ‘The Business Revolution for Inclusion’, Casey and Polman took to task businesses that claim to be diverse but exclude disability from their definition of diversity – businesses Casey coins diversish.

The event included a screening of DIVERSISH, a satirical look at businesses that call themselves diverse, but overlook, ignore or postpone anything to do with disability. The film calls for business leaders to stop being diversish and commit to action on disability inclusion.

#valuable

Casey, founder of #valuable commented: “I am honoured to welcome the latest cohort of leading companies, Sainsbury’s and Omnicom, on board as our movement grows. Without leaders stepping up and facing the challenge of this inclusion revolution, the one billion disabled people around the world won’t achieve the equality they deserve.

“Business is a force for good and we must use it to lead society. By ignoring the disposable income of the disabled people worldwide, we are ignoring $8 trillion a year, this is equivalent to the US, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan combined – we cannot ignore this.”

The Valuable 500

Casey launched The Valuable 500 at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Summit in Davos in January, and is urging global business leaders to become accountable for disability inclusion in their businesses by signing up to the campaign.

The campaign recognises that when businesses take the lead and take action, society will follow – leading to real change being made. It is seeking 500 global businesses to place disability on their board agendas.

Pledging their support

The news that Sainsbury’s and Omnicom are pledging their support to the campaign, comes just weeks after the first 10 members were announced, with the campaign hinting at advanced conversations with many other global companies.

Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary, Corporate Services Director and Board Sponsor for Disability Age and Carers for Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re extremely proud to be pledging our support to The Valuable 500. As part of our vision to be the most inclusive retailer, we are always looking for ways to improve and adapt to meet our customers’ and colleagues’ needs, as evidenced by our ongoing focus on inclusion and diversity at Board level.

“We want to continue to demonstrate best practice in this area and would encourage other companies to join us by leading from the top, and taking action to create an accessible environment for all.”

Improving disability inclusion

Janet Riccio, EVP at Omnicom and Dean of Omnicon University added: “Addressing and improving disability inclusion is a long-term and necessary commitment for any business that hopes to have a truly diverse workforce. At Omnicom, creating a safe and open environment for all employees is a constant priority, and we’re excited to join The Valuable 500 in its efforts to improve business behaviors, break down barriers and create more job opportunities for persons with disabilities.”

Today, 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 business, equivalent to disregarding a potential market the size of US, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan combined.

Global disabled employment rate

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.

Along with their friends, families and communities, the one billion disabled people worldwide also hold a disposable annual income of $8 trillion a year, equating to an opportunity that business cannot afford to ignore. Of those one billion, 80% of disabilities are acquired later life, and our ageing global population means the prevalence of disability is on the rise.

High profile support

#valuable, the organisation behind the launch of The Valuable 500, is supported by a number of high profile businesses and business leaders, including strategic partners Omnicom and Virgin Media, and leaders including Sir Richard Branson, Paul Polman, Janet Riccio and EY Chairman & CEO Mark Weinberger.

Founder of #valuable Caroline Casey launched the Valuable 500 at Davos in January, with the support of global business leaders, including former CEO of Unilever Paul Polman, Bloomberg Chairman Peter T Grauer and Procter & Gamble Group President, North America, Caroline Tastad.

This was the first time the World Economic Forum has ever included disability on the main stage at Davos.

#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 Caroline Casey, who is registered blind.

One Young World

In 2017, Caroline launched #valuable at One Young World, the global summit for young leaders, providing a platform to activate a new generation of future leaders who care passionately about disability inclusion and aren’t afraid to be vocal about it.

Caroline set off on a boundary-pushing, month-long 1,000-kilometre horse adventure through Colombia to the opening ceremony of One Young World to engage next generation leaders with the power to make change.

Caroline took to the One Young World stage once more in 2018, speaking about the Inclusion Revolution.

To apply to be a Valuable 500 business, please visit thevaluable500.com.