The world’s biggest businesses have signed up to a campaign to tackle the prejudice towards disabled people within the business world
Companies with the combined sales of over $8 trillion and 20 million staff, including BP, Apple and Coca-Cola, have joined in the Valuable 500 initiative.
But founder Caroline Casey has said that the campaign was not just about employing more people with disabilities.
companies are losing $13tn within sales by ignoring their disabled consumers, she said.
Ms Casey told the BBC that: “As we move out of this pandemic and we need to recover, why would any business look at leaving $13trn on the table?”
She told the BBC that one third of all FTSE companies did not have a website that was seen as “acceptable to people with disabilities and their families. Why would you do that?”
This comes after rescue workers fear a “terrible double blow” of the cyclone for a country that has been suffering more than 4,000 coronavirus deaths each day, as the nation’s authorities scramble to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people.
“In the UK alone we’re talking 13 million people who have a spending power of £249bn, now as we’re talking about recovery why would you leave that aside?”
Valuable 500 had been launched at the 2019 World Economic Forum Meeting in Davos, with the goal of getting 500 international businesses to commit to putting the issue of disability inclusion on their board agenda.
At the time, it had published research that said 56% of global company boards have never had a conversation about disability inclusion and this was “leading to leaving disabilities on the sidelines of business”.
According to figures released on Tuesday, there are no executives or senior managers at FTSE 100 companies who have disclosed a disability, and only 12% of firms report the number of their employees who are disclosed as disabled.
The figures also show the average representation of people with disabilities among staff reported by FTSE 100 firms is just 3.2%.
Other companies which have joined the Valuable 500 initiative include Google, Deloitte, Nestle, Microsoft and Unilever.
All of them have made a public commitment to advancing disability inclusion within their organisations, either among staff, customers or their supply chains.
“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 Ms Casey.
This comes after just 20 companies are the source of over half of all of the single-use plastic items that are thrown away globally. That’s the conclusion of a set of analysis of the corporate network that is behind the world’s single-use plastic production.
However, she stressed Valuable 500 was not just about recruiting. “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.”
Over the last year or so, Ms Casey said that the COVID-19 lockdown had helped show that the group’s objectives were achievable.
“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.”