Leaders of The Valuable 500 Talk Candidly About the State of Disability Inclusion in Business, in New Podcast Episode 

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Whitby, ON, Canada and London, U.K., October 25, 2022 — Business leaders can no longer make excuses for not fostering disability inclusion, the leaders of The Valuable 500 declare in a new podcast episode released today by the Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) to mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in North America.  

Caroline Casey, founder and creator of The Valuable 500, affirmed that they must “be curious and intentional about making change,” and urged leaders to “Go into your people, ask your people in business who are connected to disability, how you can do it better. Ask and don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know.” 

“But don’t think you can walk away from this issue anymore, because it’s your issue. It’s the most important thing a business leader can do.” 

Casey, and Paul Polman, Chair of The Valuable 500, talked with You Can’t Spell Inclusion Without a D co-hosts Jeannette Campbell and Dean Askin about the global state of disability inclusion.  

They provided unique, candid insights on progress that’s been made, and on what still needs to be done when in 2022, people with disabilities are changing the future of work and business more than ever before. 

You Can’t Spell Inclusion Without a D is a podcast that explores the power of inclusion and why disability is an important part of the workplace diversity and inclusion conversation.  

The Valuable 500 is the largest global CEO collective committed to disability inclusion. The network was launched at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  

Polman added, “The first thing that’s needed is the courage, the courage to set targets that society demands,” referring to the fact that 15 per cent of the world’s population has a disability according World Health Organization statistics. 

“Many companies have two to three per cent of people with disability. That’s just not serious,” he stated. Business won’t “get the change you need” without setting a disability inclusion target of around 10 per cent given the worldwide statistics. 

Polman said “there’s definitely more awareness” about disability inclusion in the boardrooms but “too many companies” still aren’t talking about it and taking “the more courageous actions that are needed to really deal with these issues once and for all in a decisive way.” 

The disability consumer market is over five billion people with about US$13 trillion in spending power and disability touches 53 per cent of the world’s population. This means it’s economically vital for businesses to embrace disability and reach this market, to stay competitive. 

Casey said “we’re at this incredible moment in time” where business “is the most powerful force on this planet” and the CEOs who have joined The Valuable 500 and are committed to disability inclusion, can affect and accelerate the systemic change that’s needed by “putting their signature to it, leading with their voice.” 

“[They are] now 500 of the world’s most important CEOs in the most important brands representing 22 million people who will activate that change to their collective mass,” said Casey. 

“Every one of us is going to experience disability in our lifetime. Disability is all of our business for the importance of all of our lives, to future-proof our society for ourselves and others,” she candidly stated. 

Casey said it’s no longer acceptable for disability to be left out of the diversity, equity and inclusion business conversation. “Inclusion is either all for everyone or not at all. You cannot have an a la carte approach to disability inclusion,” she affirmed in the podcast episode. 

“It’s encouraging to hear this messaging,” said Campbell, who, in addition to being the podcast co-host, is CEO of the Ontario Disability Employment Network. ODEN facilitates relationships between businesses and employment service providers around disability-inclusive hiring. 

Hear the full conversation with Caroline Casey and Paul Polman in episode seven of You Can’t Spell Inclusion Without a D, available today on Podbean.  

Listen to the episode here. 
Download the episode here. 


For more information, and to arrange interviews, contact:    

Dean Askin, Communications Strategist, ODEN   daskin@odenetwork.com  416-818-1514 (cell) 
Richard Poston, Chief Communications Officer, The Valuable 500 richard.poston@thevaluable500.com 


About ODEN: The Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN), created in 2008, is a professional body of more than 130 employment service providers united to increase employment opportunities for people who have a disability. Members are from every corner of the province and support people of all disability types. Beyond Ontario, ODEN (odenetwork.com) has connections with organizations in other provinces and territories of Canada. Light It Up! For NDEAMTM is a trademark of the Ontario Disability Employment Network. 

About the Valuable 500:  
The Valuable 500 was launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in January 2019. Today the Valuable 500 is the largest community of Global CEOs committed to disability inclusion in business. 

Since its creation, the Valuable 500 has achieved its initial goal of getting 500 multinational organisations to make a public commitment to disability inclusion in their organization, igniting a historic global movement for a new age of diversity in business. The Valuable 500 and their global impact partner The Nippon Foundation, will be working closely with the World Economic Forum and International Disability Alliance – bringing together a leading philanthropic organisation with the most prestigious global business network and the voice of the global disability community.  

By engaging with the world’s most influential business leaders and brands, the network now has a market cap of over $23 trillion, combined revenues of over $8 trillion and employs a staggering 22 million people worldwide. Its members include 15 global CEOs and companies who will be spearheading the programmes and services to be offered under Phase 2 of the transformation programme. 

The Valuable 500 is determined to create a community that supports and empowers its 500 members to systematically transform their businesses, so they include the 1.3 billion people living with disabilities worldwide, thereby unlocking their business, social and economic potential. 

We believe that if business takes a lead, society and government will follow. Truly inclusive businesses can build truly inclusive societies.