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Towards a Disability-Smart World: Strategies for Global Disability Inclusion

Author: Business Disability Forum(i) : Contact: businessdisabilityforum.org.uk

Published: 2020-07-08

Synopsis and Key Points:

Towards a Disability-Smart World: Developing a global disability inclusion strategy study draws on evidence and case studies from organisations including Shell, Unilever, HSBC, Accenture and Microsoft.

As recent times have demonstrated, we are living in a global world and there is more need than ever before for businesses to respond to disability inclusion at a corporate-wide level.

We hope this research into best practices will create impact collectively through collaboration and partnership, and benefit companies as they develop global strategies to do more for people with disabilities.

Main Digest

The study, called 'Towards a Disability-Smart World: Developing a global disability inclusion strategy', was conducted by Business Disability Forum in partnership with energy company Royal Dutch Shell. It draws on evidence and case studies from the experience of organisations including Shell, Unilever, HSBC, Accenture and Microsoft.

The Findings

The report shows that:

Yet, whilst more than 80 per cent of respondents say that their organisation had made one or more commitment to disability inclusion at a central level, only about 20 per cent of respondents had a global strategy for disability inclusion in place and resourced.

Business meeting illustration depicts 4 people seated in blue chairs behind a dark blue table.
Business meeting illustration depicts 4 people seated in blue chairs behind a dark blue table.

The study identifies several common barriers to creating a global strategy for disability inclusion. These include:

For organisations which have worked to overcome these challenges the benefits are clear, with over 80 per cent reporting improvements for disabled colleagues and customers on a global scale. Over 90 per cent reported senior level buy-in at an early stage to be key in gaining engagement, traction, and stronger accountability at a local level.

Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum, said:

"As recent times have demonstrated, we are living in a global world and there is more need than ever before for businesses to respond to disability inclusion at a corporate-wide level. This study shows that businesses are recognising that need, but often face common barriers when responding to it."

"Based on the experiences of 120 leading global brands, we want to offer organisations practical advice on how they can overcome those challenges and achieve positive change for their workforce and customers alike."

Lyn Lee, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Shell, said:

"While most leaders of organisations will agree that disability inclusion is the right thing to do, there are challenges and barriers which many need to address. We hope this research into best practices will create impact collectively through collaboration and partnership, and benefit companies as they develop global strategies to do more for people with disabilities."

Progress

The study shows that workplace adjustments, along with recruitment and onboarding, are the areas where businesses have made the most progress in disability inclusion.

These were followed by buildings and built environments; digital technology; and retention and development of employees.

Communication and marketing; customer or client experience; and procurement and supply chain, were the areas where there is the least evidence of progression.

Fundamental Lessons

The study draws on feedback and case studies from respondents to highlight some fundamental lessons for organisations looking to develop their own global disability inclusion strategy and to provide a practical roadmap to others starting out:

Diane Lightfoot said:

"Disabled people are expected to be more disadvantaged by the impact of Covid-19 than non-disabled people; particularly in developing countries. This is an opportunity for global business to make a positive difference. Introducing a corporate-wide policy on disability inclusion is a sensible place to start and the roadmap included in this report is designed to help businesses get on the right track."

The study, 'Towards a Disability-Smart World: Developing a global disability inclusion strategy' (businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/knowledge-hub/resources/towards-a-disability-smart-world-global-disability-inclusion-strategy-report/),

The accompanying roadmap, can be downloaded on Business Disability Forum's Knowledge Hub (businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/knowledge-hub/).

(i)Source/Reference: Business Disability Forum. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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