Whistl signs up to disability initiative

Jo Francis
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Delivery group Whistl has signed up to ‘The Valuable 500’, a global movement aimed at putting disability on the agenda for business leaders.

Whistl: disability on the agenda at board-level
Whistl: disability on the agenda at board-level

The movement aims to sign up 500 private sector corporations “to be the tipping-point for change and to unlock the business, social and economic value of people living with disabilities across the world”. 

Whistl CEO Nick Wells commented: “Whistl has always been a company that is all about our people and our customers. By joining The Valuable 500, we aim to continue to build an even more inclusive, supportive and diverse business, where everyone feels supported and included.”

He said that “doing the right thing” was at the heart of Whistl’s practices, and the business did not want to “leave anyone behind”.

Whistl’s commitment to the Valuable 500 includes: making sure that visible and invisible disability is on the agenda at board level; developing its Diversity & Inclusion strategy with training mandatory for all people managers; reducing stigma around talking about mental health, through a variety of company initiatives focused on mental health awareness and support. 

Adobe, BASF, Smurfit Kappa, Westrock and publishers Hachette UK and Pearson are among the companies that have already committed to the initiative, or are in the process of putting their commitment in place.

Big names involved include Tesco, P&G, Unilever and the Bank of England. The venture currently has just under 300 signatories. It was launched at the World Economic Forum in DAVOS in 2019, and aims to achieve its goal of signing up 500 national and multinational firms by January 2021

It was founded by social entrepreneur and activist Caroline Casey, who said: “It’s no longer good enough for companies to say ‘disability doesn’t fit with our brand’ or ‘it’s a good idea to explore next year’. Businesses cannot be truly inclusive if disability is continuingly ignored on leadership agendas. 

“We also need brands that are already great examples of inclusive behaviour to show other businesses how it’s done, and help us end à la carte inclusion – because the potential of 1.3 billion should not be ignored.”

Recent research by The Valuable 500 found that a third of corporations were committed to being more inclusive as the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted the importance of accessibility and flexible working.

However, it said the research also found that 15% of major corporations had admitted to delaying efforts to address disability inclusion “due to other pandemic recovery priorities”.

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