Tokyo’s Paralympic Games this summer will provide an opportunity for companies to embrace a hugely underrepresented segment of the workforce and support the global recovery from the coronavirus, experts say.
Showcasing the sporting talents of leading disabled athletes, the decades-old Games have played an important role in removing taboos surrounding often “joined or excluded” members of society, International Paralympic Committee CEO Mike Peters said. to CNBC.
That, in turn, has helped spark important conversations about how businesses and society at large can better understand and engage the 1.3 billion people worldwide with a lived experience of disability.
“Aside from being an incredible moment for athletes, for all athletes — Paralympic athletes or Olympic athletes — it’s a great moment for us to challenge the perception of inclusivity,” said Caroline Casey, a disability activist and founder of The Valuable 500, on CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Wednesday.
That has become especially important after the coronavirus pandemic, which has exposed the “gross inequality and injustice” of people with disabilities, said Casey, whose organization helps CEOs initiate and implement diversity and inclusion commitments.
But the crisis has also exposed a “bright spot,” she said, noting that many of the barriers that previously prevented employers from embracing workers with disabilities have now been broken.
“We’ve seen that the business system can bend and change — when it previously said it couldn’t — to accommodate people with disabilities who work remotely or from home, or in the different ways we’ve seen that make it so easy can be adjusted in the last 15 months,” Casey said. “That’s really important.”
That presents a huge opportunity to embrace not only workers but also consumers with disabilities, she said. After the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, employment among workers with disabilities has indeed increased, she said.
“While we need to recover from this pandemic, why on earth would a company leave behind the value of 15% to 20% of our world population, which equates to a purchasing power of $13 trillion,” she said.
The comments come as the delayed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games continue to be plagued by the pandemic and its challenges, prompting criticism from Japanese citizens and international observers.
However, Peters said the measures taken by the organizing committee along with the Japanese government and the Tokyo metropolitan government mean the Games would be “one of the safest places on Earth”.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics holds the U.S. broadcasting rights to all summer and winter games through 2032.