CEOs of Ten of the World’s Largest Organisations Take Action on Disability Inclusion

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Valuable 500 – the largest network of global CEOs committed to diversity – announces a series of new commitments by some of the world’s leading employers.

Whilst there has been a growing awareness around disability inclusion in the past year, it still doesn’t have its deserved share of voice within the diversity & inclusion agenda.  It is often a forgotten aspect in this conversation – particularly when it comes to business leadership. The Valuable 500 is working to tackle this critical issue, and these latest set of commitments aim to close this gap within several sectors.

The latest commitments come from the CEOs of PepsiCo, PwC, Spotify, VMware, L’Oréal, Zurich Insurance, The Estée Lauder Companies, Schlumberger, Sky and Steelcase.

Ramon Laguarta, PepsiCo Chairman and CEO, has reinforced PepsiCo’s commitment to prioritise disability inclusion and will accelerate its efforts to support associates with disabilities, and care givers of people with disabilities, to perform at their best through proactive and inclusive practices. Initiatives underway that fortify this commitment include continuing to provide real-time sign language translation in key internal meetings and trainings; continuing its PepsiACT initiative in the U.S., a partnership with non-profit Disability Solutions Ability Beyond, which identifies job opportunities across PepsiCo operations and trained more than 150 managers and supervisors to retain talented individuals with disabilities; and the launch of MAYA– a new and innovative bot which automatically translates PepsiCo’s Portuguese career site content into Brazilian sign language. More than 400,000 sites were translated in 2020, bringing accessibility for more than 4,000 people.

Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, has committed to accessibility improvements with the aim of better serving its community of diverse and differently-abled listeners and creators. To optimize its immersive listening experiences, the streaming service changed the colour, text format and size of the navigation buttons for individuals with low vision and visual impairment. In addition, users may increase the text size on their mobile phones to accommodate their specific needs. The app also auto-generates transcripts for select original and exclusive podcasts – allowing those who are hearing impaired to read the show’s text either with or without sound. Spotify is keeping accessibility top of mind when it comes to its employees – or bandmates, as they call them – as well. The company is currently redesigning all its office spaces to be inclusive and has launched its Work From Anywhere policy to support employees to live and work where they work at their best.

Oliver le Peuch, CEO of Schlumberger has committed to new policies including expanding employee education to include building disability confidence and awareness, performing self-assessments in pilot locations to evaluate its work environment friendliness for persons with disabilities and supporting the creation of an Employee Resource Group. In addition to this Schlumberger has committed to review its recruiting practices to ensure it hires more persons with disabilities and to inspire young people with a disability through science education.

Nicolas Hieronimus, CEO of L’Oréal committed to promote the recruitment of persons with disabilities in all countries with a global goal of at least 2% of employees with disabilities by 2025. In addition to this, L’Oréal encourages employees to disclose their disabilities and works hard to raise awareness and combat stigma and stereotypes to challenge how people think about disabilities. L’Oréal aims to promote both physically and digitally accessible workplaces, and the company collaborates with experts, associations, NGOs and with its suppliers, consumers and local communities to advance disability inclusion both within and outside the Group.

Raghu Raghuram, CEO of VMware has committed to building disability inclusion into the company’s leadership agenda, including initiatives such as training employees to make informed inquiries about accessibility when procuring new software, working with vendors to make existing software solutions more accessible and launching Crest, an open-source machine learning-based automated accessibility testing tool that helps developers build more accessible software, improve compliance with ADA guidelines and boost accessibility for people with disabilities. In addition, VMware is fostering a culture that promotes self-identification and enablement and creating accessible and equitable experiences from the moment someone applies for a job at the company.

Mario Greco, Group CEO of Zurich Insurance, has ensured that inclusion of all employees is on the agenda of senior leadership and commits to setting up a global Employee Resource Group (ERG) and improving physical and digital accessibility across Zurich’s locations worldwide. The global ERG will contain local chapters in national entities, integrating the already established ERGs across a diverse range of topics, representing employee voices at Group level.

Fabrizio Freda, President and CEO of The Estée Lauder Companies, is deeply committed to facilitating a culture of equity, inclusion, and belonging within the company and its communities. Under his leadership, the company has made progress to support its collective vision to be the most inclusive and diverse beauty company in the world, and to be both the employer of choice for diverse talent and the brands of choice for diverse consumers. In support of disability inclusion, the company has fostered an inclusive recruitment process, promoted digital inclusion and accessibility of communication, delivered unconscious bias and inclusive leadership trainings, and launched supplier diversity initiatives, among other initiatives.

Sky, Europe’s leading media and entertainment company, will mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities by launching its first ever content collection focusing on amplifying powerful and inspiring documentaries featuring people with disabilities. This content collection is an example of how Sky is continuing to use its platform to push for change. By sharing unique stories, Sky hopes to amplify underrepresented communities and help educate people about different experiences. The content collection includes Hawking: Can You Hear Me? (Sky Documentaries), Alex Brooker: Disability and Me (BBC), and Stacey Dooley Sleep’s Over – Living with Down’s Syndrome (W).

Sara Armbruster, Steelcase President and CEO, has committed to shining a spotlight on designing for disability and inclusion in Steelcase workplaces, supporting organizations around the world in creating workplace solutions designed for inclusion and participating in an inclusive design community of interest where diversity and design can come together to inform the evolution of a better work experience for all.

Launched at Davos in January 2019 by Caroline Casey and Paul Polman, the Valuable 500 remains the only global CEO community dedicated to radically transforming the business system across the whole supply chain for the benefit of all those with a disability. In May 2021, the Valuable 500 reached its milestone of 500 of the world’s largest organisations signing up to disability commitment.

The membership includes 36 of the FTSE 100 companies, 48 of the Fortune 500 and 28 of the Nikkei. Almost three quarters (70%) of its members have a turnover of over $1 billion, with half (52%) of those committed to the campaign employing more than 10,000 people. The organisations supporting the Valuable 500 have a combined revenue of well over $8 trillion and over 21 million employees across 41 countries.

Now in phase two of the campaign, the Valuable 500 is calling for a shift in mentality, and for business and society alike to make the next decade the decade of disruption when it comes to disability inclusion. Ensuring disability inclusion is firmly embedded within the whole business supply chain will not be achieved in a single day of awareness – but it can be a critical focus for the next ten years as the world looks to build back better.

Seven targets, relating to five out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, specifically mention persons with disabilities hence the Valuable 500’s mission will be integral to meeting the UN’s 2030 agenda in time over the next decade. Currently, 15% of the global population are persons with disabilities. This number increases to 53% when you include the families of those living with persons with disabilities. Businesses cannot afford to exclude such a significant pool of talent, diversity of thought and customers with a spending power of $13 trillion per annum.

Today is a day for celebrating the immense contribution persons with disabilities bring to business and society more broadly – this 15% of the global population bring diversity of thought and lived experience and a wealth of talent, all vital for the business sustainability agenda. This year’s theme of UN IDPD highlights “Leadership of the new generations: Children and adolescents with disabilities and their voices post COVID-19”. Leadership is a fundamental principle of The Valuable 500 which aims to radically transform the business ecosystem to being inclusive for all. But today must also be a day of reflection, because we are not there yet with disability inclusion, and a fair and accessible society for all.

When it comes to disability inclusion, we believe there is no time like now. We are delighted to see how we are already moving from commitments to action to make change happen. It’s great to see these latest commitments from our members. We believe in collaboration rather than competition and the multiplier effect of the collective impact of 500 leading CEOs and brands. I am confident that over the next decade, if the business community pulls together and stands united in ensuring disability inclusion is a central part of their leadership agenda, we can truly make a difference globally across the next decade.

Caroline Casey, Founder of the Valuable 500

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