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Initiative aims to help businesses more inclusive

the valuable 500 logo
the valuable 500 logo Image credit:

Some of the largest companies in the world have signed up to a project which aims to combat prejudice towards people with disabilities.

The Valuable 500 initiative sees firms with a combined sale of $8 trillion and 20 million staff coming together to make the business market more inclusive.

Firms taking part in the scheme include Apple, BP, Coca-Cola, Google, Deloitte, Nestle, Microsoft and Unilever.

It’s a win win situation, not only will companies employ more disabled employees they are waking up to the fact ignoring people with disabilities is costing businesses $13 trillion, a statistic which has not gone unnoticed by founder owner Caroline Casey.

She told the BBC: "As we move out of this pandemic and we need to recover, why would any business look at leaving $13trn on the table?"

Casey added that one third of FTSE UK companies did not have a website that was "acceptable to people with disabilities and their families. Why would you do that?"

Valuable 500 was launched in 2019 at the World Economic Meeting in Davos, back then 56% of company boards across the world had never discussed disability.

This week new figures show of all the executives or senior managers at FTSE 100 companies not one has revealed they have some form of disability and the average representation of employees with a disability is just 3.2%.

"We have an inequality crisis facing the disability community which is just huge and it can't be resolved without business meeting meaningfully at the table," said Casey.

She went on to stress Valuable 500 was not just about employing people with a disability. "We're looking at driving systematic change in the business system [in terms of] customers and suppliers and talent."

"If you want to be able to have access to that market you need to have that talent in your business and I think when we speak about disability business inclusions we always speak about employment and we forget the huge, huge value of this market globally."

Lockdown has highlighted how the initiative’s targets can be met.

Casey said: "It's proved the business system can change, hasn't it? Look how quickly our systems had to change because they wanted to and we can't unknow what we now know.

"Our systems can flex and they can change and as we move out into recovery why would any business, an intelligent business leader, leave behind 15-20% of the global population. It would be madness absolute madness."

For more information visit the Valuable 500 website.