The Tokyo Paralympics this summer offer companies an opportunity to attract a severely underrepresented segment of the workforce and support the global coronavirus recovery, experts said.
The decades of games, which showcase the athletic talents of leading disabled athletes, have helped break taboos around often “shunned or excluded” members of society, Mike Peters, CEO of the International Paralympic Committee, told CNBC.
This, in turn, has helped spark important conversations about how businesses and society at large can better understand and involve the 1.3 billion people around the world with a lived experience of disability.
“Aside from the fact that this is an incredible moment for athletes, it is a great moment for all athletes – Paralympic athletes or Olympic athletes – to question the perception of inclusivity,” said Caroline Casey, a disability activist and Founder of The Valuable 500 on CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Wednesday.
Why in the world would a company in its right mind put 15-20% of the world’s population behind, which equates to $ 13 trillion in purchasing power.
Founder, The Valuable 500
That became particularly important after the coronavirus pandemic, which exposed the “gross injustice and injustice” of people with disabilities, said Casey, whose organization supports CEOs in initiating and implementing commitments to diversity and inclusion.
However, the crisis has also revealed a “ray of hope”, she said, noting that many of the barriers that previously prevented employers from accepting workers with disabilities have now been broken.
Athletes position themselves on the start line during a para-athletics test event for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on Aug.
Bloomberg | Getty Images
“We have seen that the business system can flexibly adapt and change – while it was not said before – to accommodate people with disabilities who work remotely or from home, or in the different ways we’ve seen so easy to adjust last 15 months, “said Casey.” That’s very important.
This opens up a great opportunity to involve not only workers but also consumers with disabilities, she said. In fact, after the London 2012 Paralympics, employment of workers with disabilities increased, she said.
“As we need to recover from this pandemic, why in the world would a sane company leave 15 to 20% of the world’s population worth 15 to 20%, which is $ 13 trillion in purchasing power,” she said.
The comments come as the delayed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics continue to be ravaged by the pandemic and challenges, and sparking criticism from Japanese citizens and international observers.
However, Peters said that the organizing committee’s actions, along with the Japanese government and the Tokyo metropolitan government, have made the Games “one of the safest places in the world”.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics owns the U.S. broadcast rights to all Summer and Winter Games through 2032.