How the private sector can play its part

As the world starts to look to a post-Covid future, people with disabilities need to be a core part of the recovery, and the private sector must be ambitious in playing its part.

	Jane Angua weaves sweaters for school-going children.

This month the Global Disability Summit gives governments, civil society and corporates the opportunity to make their commitments in this area public.

The summit, the second of its kind, is being hosted by the International Disability Alliance (IDA), the Government of Norway, and the Government of Ghana on 16 and 17 February 2022 but running virtually.

We will be taking part in the proceedings at events on topics as diverse as disability inclusive climate action through to engaging organisations of people with disabilities (OPDs). We’ll also be working with a number of our corporate partners to help them define and deliver their commitments for the future.

Why you should make commitments

Our view is that an individual might have a condition but they become disabled by the barriers that exist within society.

Barriers are not just physical. Barriers exist in the way we communicate, the technology we use and the attitudes we act upon. Recognising the barriers that exist and considering how we can best remove them to create more inclusive opportunities is at the centre of our work.

More than one in five of us will be affected by disability at some point in our lives. For a business of any size, as well as the duty to comply with disability legislation a proactive approach to inclusion provides so much more.

  • Untapped spending power

It’s estimated that within the UK alone the spending power of people with disabilities equates to £249 bn per annum. Globally this may be £1 trillion.

  • A growing market

The prevalence of disability is expected to grow with an population and accessibility and inclusion is a means to future proof products and services.

  • Customer retention

UK research found that three out of four people with disabilities and their families had stopped supporting businesses citing poor accessibility and/or poor customer service. Businesses risk existing customers shifting their spending to their competitors unless they take steps to be inclusive.

  • Attraction and retention of the best staff

With a high level of job vacancies in the UK businesses need to attract the best talent. Yet, stigma towards job seekers with disabilities remains entrenched amongst employers with one in five (19%) still reporting that they would be less likely to employ someone with a disability, a proportion that has been consistent for several years. Businesses cannot afford to cut themselves off from over 20% of their potential employees. A report by Accenture shows that in the US businesses which are leaders in disability inclusion outperform others on profitability and value creation.

The next steps

There are a wide range of commitments suggested at the conference but the ones which your business could have the most impact in are:

  1. Provide support to promote the employment of people with disabilities in the public and private sectors.
  2. Develop open, inclusive, and accessible work environments.
  3. Provide opportunities for life-long learning, reskilling, and advancement for people with disabilities.
  4. Strengthen and improve the effectiveness of non-discrimination and affirmative action in legislation.

How we're working with other organisations

We’re already working with organisations across the world to help them remove barriers for people with disabilities and work in inclusive ways. These include:

  • Supporting businesses to employ more people with disabilities through recruitment audits, training, and links to dedicated schemes.
  • Enabling businesses to develop inclusive and accessible environments reviewing policies, practices and promoting a disability inclusive culture.
  • Engaging businesses in community projects that support people with disabilities to develop their skills and prospects. 

To find out more about innovative partnerships where disability confident businesses are enabling economic empowerment across Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America join the Global Disability Summit’s private sector roundtable on Thursday 17 February from 1pm to 2pm Central European Time.

To discuss next steps, at whatever stage your organisation is at, get in touch with our team on