The UN Global Compact Network Nigeria and an International nongovernmental organization, Sightsavers have urged private-sector employers in Nigeria and across West Africa to advance disability inclusion in their workplaces and operations.
In the first-ever disability event for private-sector employers in Nigeria held on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, both organisations emphasised the need to actively involve persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in decision-making processes, ensure accessibility in all aspects of their operations, and develop disability-specific policies and strategies.
The virtual event, themed “Advancing Corporate Sustainability Through Disability Inclusion,” was attended by representatives from the UN, the private sector, and civil society.
Six-trillion dollar loss
The World Health Organisation estimates that about 16 percent of the world’s 8 billion people (representing one in every six persons) experience significant disability.
Compared to their non-disabled counterparts, persons with disabilities have a higher risk of being unemployed. The global economy loses about 6 trillion US dollars each year as a result of this exclusion.
In her address to the event, Naomi Nwokolo, Executive Director, of UN Global Compact Network Nigeria, emphasised that disability inclusion is an integral part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She said both business leaders and the corporate organisations they lead had the responsibility to ensure accessibility and inclusion for all, including persons with disabilities.
“Disability inclusion is not just a moral imperative; it is also a business imperative. Studies have shown that companies that embrace diversity and inclusion, including disability inclusion, are more innovative, productive, and profitable than those that do not,” she added.
On his part, Simon Brown, Deputy Technical Director of Economic Empowerment at Sightsavers, said, “Disability inclusion is not just the right thing to do ethically; it’s also good for business.”
The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest collective of businesses committed to sustainability initiatives. Through its Nigeria office, it provides the network and platform to encourage responsible business practices by companies operating in Africa’s largest economy and offers guidance on translating sustainability commitments into actions.
Working in 30 countries, Sightsavers strives to end avoidable blindness, treat and eliminate neglected tropical diseases, and promote equality of opportunity for people with disabilities.
Both organisations are partnering to leverage their extensive network and resources to ensure an inclusive world for the 1.3 billion persons with disabilities.
To further drive home the need for disability inclusion in corporate organisations, Wednesday’s virtual event featured a panel discussion with business experts from Access Bank, MTN Foundation and Unilever who are making strides in disability inclusion.
The panelists addressed the benefits of disability inclusion for both employees and employers and how the private sector can tap into the benefits of mainstreaming disability.
The three disability-confident companies also shared their best practices for implementing inclusive policies.
The event concluded with a call to action for companies to commit to improving their disability inclusion efforts by aligning with the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact and partnering with Sightsavers’ employment initiative.