“Disability has been traditionally framed as a charity, medicine, or sympathy issue, rather than as a market-based opportunity,” says disability activist and social entrepreneur, Caroline Casey.
The former business consultant is on a mission to see disability be a top priority for global corporations. Her new campaign, #valuable, urges an attitude change in businesses towards those with disabilities. She’s working to put the business case for disability on the Davos 2019 agenda and to have 500 major companies commit to tabling the issue.
“If businesses see the value and potential, and include those with disabilities, then society will include. If businesses exclude, then society will exclude,” Caroline told Michael Hayman on the latest Change Makers episode.
Caroline was brought up as a sighted child, only finding out aged 17 that she was legally blind.
However, a fear of being labelled ‘disabled’ led Caroline to hide her visual impairment throughout her time at business school, and in her early business career.
“When anybody goes to a job interview, do you shout about what you’re not great at?” she reflects, “What we should be aiming for is universally inclusive cultures, where every human being that comes into our business can reach their potential as they are.”
#valuable was launched in 2017 at the One Young World summit in Bogota. To mark it, she trekked 1,000km on horse-back, from Cartagena to the One Young World event.
One billion people worldwide have a disability, and they are 50% less likely to have a job. Caroline says that while there is plenty of pleasant conversation about overcoming this injustice, there is not enough practical action.
Her message to Michael and Change Makers viewers was the same she gave to those One Young World delegates: stand up.
“Stop saying we are inspiring and that this is a great thing. If you really want to lead in this century, if you really believe in good, conscientious business, and serving the community in which you operate, we need business leaders to stand up and recognise the 15% of the global population with a disability.”
Watch her interview on The Change Makers here.