Imagine what it would feel like to be on mute constantly and permanently? Not only through Zoom or the digital world but also offline and in your professional career. This, many times, is the reality of individuals with disabilities.
As advocates, it is our responsibility to ask these questions to leaders in our communities because they have the power to make a difference faster than anyone else. Imagine if business leaders and CEOs would prioritize diversity and disability inclusion as much as they prioritize their company’s reputation and image. We constantly see backlash when companies come out as insensitive with their statements and campaigns, given that they see diversity and inclusion as a tick-box exercise.
Inclusion brings uniqueness, difference, and creativity to the table and we must be comfortable with this change. Leaders must shift their focus on creating spaces and work cultures that make people feel that they belong to something bigger than themselves. A culture and environment that encourages individuals to have uncomfortable conversations, shed light on underrepresented groups and bring the lens of difference to a team. Diversity and inclusion are as important as any other goal for an organization and we must hold our leaders accountable.
With this in mind, we wanted to share The Valuable 500 program founded by Caroline Casey. At DiversityStyling we want to encourage leaders to join the revolution towards making the world a more welcoming place and this is a great start for anyone looking where to. Recently PRADA and BURBERRY joined this program and we are looking forward to seeing more fashion brands join!
What is The Valuable 500?
As stated on their platforms, “The Valuable 500 is the global CEO community revolutionizing disability inclusion through business leadership and opportunity.” This means that CEOs and leaders are invited to join this movement to help them keep their organizations accountable for diversity and inclusion, as this is an ongoing topic that needs to be evaluated and addressed.
How is this accomplished?
When CEOs join this global movement, they compromise to put disability on the leadership agenda. This is extremely important because as mentioned earlier, disability and inclusion are not tick-box exercises. They must plan, follow up their words with actions, and be role models for other leaders starting their careers. The Value 500 gives flexibility to each organization on how they want to take action and provides a list of suggestions if needed!
Why should this matter?
In the world, there are over 1.3 billion people with disabilities. This is not just a “demographic.” This is the largest minority group with 20% of the world’s population. People with disabilities together with their friends and family have a spending power of $8 trillion. Without appealing to this group, we are not only limiting the fulfillment of people with disabilities but also missing out on a minority that can contribute significantly to the growth of our economy. It is extremely important for organizations to be inclusive from within so that people with disabilities can be part of the workforce to share their experience and strengths within their organizations.
Why should you apply?
The Valuable 500 community has a goal of reaching 500 CEO signatures. So far, they have 425 signatures. They are so close to achieving their goal and this is exciting for our society because leaders will be able to develop leadership skills to prioritize disability inclusion and diversity within their organizations!
How do you apply?
Visit their website: https://www.thevaluable500.com/ to register your interest. You will have to provide your full name, company name, position, and company email!
We hope you take the time to read this carefully and consider applying if you are part of an organization that should prioritize diversity and inclusion more often! The CEO will have to certify the interest to join the program, but anyone in the company can suggest this. If you believe this will make a change in your workplace, make sure you share The Valuable 500 in your next meeting and encourage your leaders to join this movement! Together we can make a change, no matter how small or big the steps are!
The Valuable 500 logo written in white letters with a black background. The logo is a V with a red heart at the right top corner of the letter.