Inclusive business practices take centre stage in a new ESCAP report, launched on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The report, "Disability at a Glance 2023: Catalysts of Change: Disability Inclusion in Business in Asia and the Pacific," shines a spotlight on the transformative potential of disability-inclusive business practices. It underscores the need for businesses in the Asia-Pacific region to promote disability inclusion across their value chains to promote equality and diversity while fostering growth and innovation.
The report provides an overview of the status of disability-inclusive business practices, showcasing numerous successful examples from both within the region and beyond. The inclusion of persons with disabilities brings potential benefits for businesses, including access to an untapped talent pool, heightened productivity and retention, improved workplace accessibility, increased innovation and profitability, diversified supplier networks, enhanced delivery of goods and services, closer contact with a vast consumer market and a boost to reputation.
“The publication emphasizes that now is the time for businesses, governments, and other stakeholders to shift their approach to ensure that businesses actively promote disability rights and inclusion,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.
The Asia-Pacific region is home to over 750 million persons with disabilities, many of whom continue to face significant barriers to their full societal participation. Data from the International Labour Organization reveals that the median labour force participation rate for 23 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region is 24 per cent for persons with disabilities compared to 60 per cent for persons without.
Realizing disability-inclusive development requires meaningful engagement with persons with disabilities, encompassing their diverse experiences and comprehensive integration of their rights. Business can assume a pivotal role in advancing disability-inclusive development by championing inclusion and upholding the rights of persons with disabilities throughout their value chain. This approach involves actively engaging persons with disabilities as leaders, employees, consumers, suppliers/distributors, subject experts and valued stakeholders.
Removing barriers to the full participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of business is essential. Recently, ESCAP member States adopted the Jakarta Declaration on the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2023-2032. The Declaration recognizes the transformative potential of disability-inclusive business and urges private sector engagement as a pivotal catalyst for change. Given the private sector's significant contribution to employment, manufacturing and services in the region, it is evident that the economic empowerment of persons with disabilities can only be truly realized through the private sector’s active involvement and contributions.
The commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities featured a dynamic multi-stakeholder panel and discussion centred on the promotion of disability-inclusive business practices. It also included a film screening showcasing winning short films from Focus on Ability, an annual film festival organized by NOVA Employment. These films celebrate the achievements and abilities of persons with disabilities.