AhGender, race and sexuality equality have been sidelined for years, but they are gaining importance as issues for boardrooms. However, one category is noticeably lacking. It is disability inclusion. Perhaps because failure comes in many forms, and as a result requires a multi-layered and thorough approach. It can also be argued that business he has unconscious biases and fears in his leaders that have been accused of being “wrong.” Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: people with disabilities are being neglected.
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 15% of the approximately 8 billion people on the planet experience a disability. This number may surprise many and is expected to continue to rise due to factors such as an aging population.
But a report by the Return on Disability Group found that the community remains marginalized on the business front, with 90% of businesses claiming to prioritize diversity and inclusion in light of disability. Only 4% are companies. In contrast to the often compared pillars of equality, such as gender, race and ethnic representation, there are complex factors that make it difficult to obtain clear and standardized data. The fundamental problem lies in the fact that four out of five disorders, such as heart disease, lung disease, hearing loss, and multiple chemical sensitivities, are invisible. Employees are also reluctant to disclose whether they have a disability for fear of discrimination, stigma and prejudice in the work environment. The quality of disability data therefore depends on the existence of an organizational culture in which employees feel comfortable self-disclosing.
There are many obstacles to progress, but one of the most significant is senior management’s reluctance to disclose. According to the Valuable 500 survey, only 3% of leaders are open about their disability and caregiving role. In addition, disability issues are largely excluded from the Board’s agenda. And with laws in force, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, requiring businesses to do a minimum to achieve equality in the workplace, the onus is on businesses to take action.
Ensuring business-driven inclusion of consumers and employees with disabilities is no longer an invitation. In addition to being a moral imperative, failing to take into account the disability population risks a company’s brand. Combined, the disability market he controls over $13 trillion. By ignoring the diverse wants and needs of consumers, businesses risk losing the enormous purchasing power of households with disabilities. New laws, such as the European Accessibility Act and his Website and Software Application Accessibility Act in the United States, increase the risk of reputational and financial damage to businesses if they do not treat employees with disabilities fairly.
Over the past few years, we have seen some exceptional examples of leadership and disability inclusion efforts. For example, his October launch of the first adaptive fashion collection by German retailer Zalando, and his Telefonica’s recent pledge to double his number of employees with disabilities by 2024. And so on. , and Channel 4 have launched an extensive study on disability access and inclusion in the UK television industry.
Despite this progress, there is still considerable variation in these efforts. Without standardized and published data, it is nearly impossible to create meaningful change because there are no benchmarks to measure. Business leaders have the power to redress this stark inequality and must urgently take responsibility.
Polman is Chairman and Parker is Chief Innovation Officer of the Valuable 500, a business network supporting disability inclusion.
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