ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

Big Four join forces to tackle exclusion of disabled people in business

Deloitte, PwC and KPMG have joined EY by signing up to The Valuable 500.

The Valuable 500, launched at Davos earlier this year, commits its signatories to prioritising the inclusion of people with disabilities in their businesses.

This is the first time that all four leading accountancy firms have collaborated on disability inclusion in business. Each will now be held accountable for disability inclusion, partly by ensuring it is discussed by board-level leaders and action is taken as a result.

Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500, said, “Deloitte UK, EY, KPMG UK and PwC UK, the big four professional services organisations, have the national power to make a difference in their sector, and therefore the responsibility to really make a difference. It is fantastic that they are standing up together to speak for those who have been routinely ignored in business and society. 

“Momentum is building for disability inclusion and it is fantastic to see global competitors come together to collaborate and solve global inclusion issues. Undoubtedly this is a sign that the world is waking up to the current inequality crisis.

“We applaud the Big Four for taking a definitive stand on inclusion and giving a voice to disabled people through their boardrooms, and encourage other business leaders and brands to follow suit in committing to The Valuable 500,” she added.

Each firm is also taking individual steps toward a more inclusive business. Deloitte, PwC and KPMG work with Auticon, which works to target the strengths of autistic candidates with targeted hiring.

EY has been named on Fortune’s ‘Change the World’ list for its work on hiring neurodiverse candidates. Carmine di Sibio, EY’s CEO and global chairman, commented, “We’ve seen the power of inclusive initiatives first hand through our Neurodiverse Centres of Excellence which recruit, train and employ individuals on the autism spectrum. Diversity and inclusion is part of the lifeblood of our organisation and we believe that we all need to work together across the globe to bring more attention to this important issue.”

Richard Houston, senior partner and CEO of Deloitte UK and North and South Europe, added that “an inclusive culture means encouraging true diversity of thought and creating an environment that allows everyone to play to their strengths”.

“Businesses like ours,” says Kevin Ellis, senior partner and chairman at PwC, “have a responsibility to promote inclusion and equality, and as business leaders we need to work together to unlock the value of disabled talent across society. At PwC we're committed to creating a culture where everyone feels they can thrive and progress - disability inclusion is an integral part of our Board agenda on inclusion.”

Tony Cates, vice chair and board sponsor for disability and mental health at KPMG UK, said, “As a large employer and with a broad client base we have a real opportunity to lead from the front and promote inclusion, diversity and social equality in our business and the people we work with. The Valuable 500 is another opportunity for us to speak out about the importance of disability inclusion and we look forward to working with others to further this agenda.”

The global unemployment rate for disabled people currently stands at half of non-disabled people, a gap that has widened since 2010.

Originally published in Economia on 13 September 2019.

Frances Ball