Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and Unilever’s Paul Polman are among the global business leaders who have today committed to take accountability for disability inclusion.
Companies are throwing support behind new initiative #valuable -- a worldwide call to action for businesses to recognize the value and worth of the one billion disabled people around the world.
Caroline Casey, founder of #valuable, said: "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 has announced that the need to bolster inclusion of those living with a disability will be a main message at Davos in 2019."
Today, more than one billion people across the world live with some form of disability -- 15 percent 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 U.S., Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan combined.
Of those one billion, 80 percent of disabilities are formed later in life.
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.
"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," said Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever.
"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."
Virgin Media has joined forces with the U.K. 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.
Meanwhile, 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. The company has long supported its employees by creating a diverse and inclusive environment that nurtures creative energy. That means diversity in backgrounds, race, gender, age and experience, as well as embracing those with disabilities.
The campaign 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.