National Inclusion Week: Leading The Valuable 500

Diversity should be at the heart of all businesses, and one organisation is helping to build a more inclusive future. Chief executive at The Valuable 500, Joanna McGrath, reveals what’s next in the global movement.

Currently, businesses across the world could be losing out on the $8trillion spending power of disabled people and their networks because disability inclusion isn’t at the top of their agenda. In 2019 Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500, began her mission to hold big businesses to account and help them on the road to a more inclusive future.

The organisation now represents 500 companies with 20 million employees in 36 countries worldwide, aiding them in their progression. Chief executive at The Valuable 500, Joanna McGrath, is at the helm of this change.

The 500

The campaign focuses on national and multinational private sector corporations, where chief executive officers (CEOs) are able to insight real change from the top.

“There’s a lot of companies out there doing brilliant and interesting work, but doing it on their own,” explains Joanna. “The Valuable 500 is all about working together to shift the dial.”

When talking about inclusion and diversity, disability is often bottom of the list because it is deemed complicated and challenging. Using a collaborative approach, The Valuable 500 wants to change this mindset.

“The ask was for companies to commit to one thing and deliver on that one thing,” says Joanna. “It has almost been like a two-year focus group or daily research task hearing all sorts of questions and challenges and what the barriers were for companies to make progress.”

Phase two

The organisation is now entering phase two, focussing on six pillars that are key to removing barriers and creating a more inclusive future: c-suite; customer; culture; research; reporting; representation.

“There’s definitely a huge gap in information, how can we get better if we don’t know where we are at the moment?” asks Joanna.

Across the pillars, areas like public disclosure of disability data, the disability pay gap, barriers to employment for disabled people, website accessibility and more will be the focus.

“We want The Valuable 500 to be this place of innovation,” emphasises Joanna. “We decided to pick one or two companies to work with in each pillar to help solve these challenges and to create tools everybody can use and share.

Research

This intention will see signatories of The Valuable 500 like Google, Salesforce, Mahindra and Deloitte helping to power the research underpinning each pillar.

Throughout the next three years, this research will form the basis of a new hub, available for any company or organisation looking to become more inclusive and accessible.

“It will be a place for companies to share the work they’re doing and the challenges that they have so that we’ve got this kind of brilliant, ongoing, living, breathing place where the community can connect,” enthuses Joanna. “It feels like an exciting time for being more inclusive of everybody and we are here to start the conversation and make sure that people with disabilities are definitely included in that.”

Highlighting the value of the disability community worldwide, The Valuable 500 is forging a path for a new, more inclusive type of business in the future.

Find out more about The Valuable 500 and phase two of the campaign at www.thevaluable500.com

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