More than a billion people worldwide live with some form of disability – roughly 15 per cent of the global population. Yet despite these significant numbers – and the right of people with disabilities to work and participate fully in all aspects of life – disability inclusion is often unaddressed by businesses.
People with disabilities, especially women with disabilities, are less likely to be employed than people without disabilities, due to various societal barriers. In addition, products and services are often not designed to include people with disabilities as customers. This can limit people with disabilities’ access to products and services, as well as limit a company’s profitability and sustainability by not reaching a growing number of potential customers.
80 per cent of people living with an impairment live in low- and middle-income countries, so this is a particularly pressing issue in countries where we invest. Excluding people with disabilities from the labour force in low- and middle-income countries is estimated to result in GDP losses of between 3 to 7 per cent.
To raise awareness of the importance and value of disability inclusion, we worked with Social Development Direct, a leading provider of social development assistance and research services, to develop disability inclusion guidance for businesses. The guidance is available in accessible format here. The publication is designed to help companies familiarise themselves with the topic of disability inclusion and provides steps to become more disability inclusive.
The guidance outlines the core elements of a disability-inclusive company, provides examples of barriers to disability inclusion and suggests ways to address them. It also includes case studies of two businesses we invest in and how they have addressed disability inclusion within their business. We have also produced guidance specifically for fund managers, which is available on our ESG Toolkit. We hope this will encourage investors and businesses to ensure people with disabilities are included as employees, customers and services users.