Irish activists launch global campaign against disability exclusion in the workplace

80% of people in Ireland who are blind or in a wheelchair never work again

Irish activists launch global campaign against disability exclusion in the workplace

Mark Pollock and Caroline Casey at the #valuable launch, 22-08-2017. Image: Gail Conway/Newstalk

A group of Irish activists have launched a new campaign calling on global businesses to tackle disability exclusion in the workplace.

The international employment rate for people living with a disability is half that of people without.

The #valuable campaign highlights the value of the one billion people who are living with disability - and the vastly untapped source of talent, creativity and potential they represent.

Award-winning activist and social entrepreneur Caroline Casey is spearheading the campaign, calling on 500 businesses to take a lead role in tackling inequality and disability exclusion around the world.

Ms Casey, who is registered blind, is embarking on a month-long 1,000km horse trek through Columbia to raise awareness of the campaign.

She warned that up to 50% of businesses across the OECD opt to pay fines rather than meet quotas on employing people with disability.

The campaign is already supported by a number of business leaders including LinkedIn co-founder, Reid Hoffman, Channel Four CMO Dan Brooke and One Young World co-founder Kate Robinson.

Ms Casey also has the support of Irish activists Mark Pollock, Niall Breslin, Sinéad Burke and Adam Harris.

Employment exclusion

Speaking at the launch of the campaign in Dublin this morning Mr Pollock - an adventurer and athlete who is both blind and paralysed - said the exclusion rate in Ireland is particularly high:

"Eight out of ten people who are blind don't work again and eight out of ten people who are in a wheelchair don't work again," he said.

"So that leaves us with 20% in this country who are working and 80% who are not.

"The question is what is the reason for that? Why is that statistic there?"

#valuable

The campaign aims to ignite a global conversation about a world where everyone is valued equally - and urge business leaders to champion the issue of disability in business around the world.

Ms Casey will complete her 1,000km trek by arriving at the opening ceremony of the One Young World Summit on October 4th.

"I believe that building a global society that recognises the value of the 1 billion people living with a disability starts with business," she said. "We have seen that business has the power to change behaviour and attitudes on other large social issues."

"The ambition of #valuable is to begin a real conversation on business and disability that will drive systemic change.

"It is time to challenge the status quo, and truly position disability equally on diversity and inclusion agendas."

You can follow Caroline's epic journey by logging on to valuable.global and by following the hashtag #valuabletribe.