#Valuable500 – Putting disability on the business leadership agenda.

Firstly we, Stripy Lightbulb CIC, think #Valuable500 has amazing potential for increasing inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. We hope it lives up to their Twitter bio which states –

  exists to release the social & economic potential of 1.3 billion people.

What is #Valuable?  It launched 24 January 2019. https://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/media-centre/news/the-valuable-500-launches-at-the-world-economic-forum-annual-summit

What concerns Stripy Lightbulb CIC is how corporates are reacting to it. Just yesterday, a Diversity and Inclusion Lead of a major global corporate company said ‘ Caroline Casey, 19 years, things will get better’ to our Managing Director in a LinkedIn message when asked if they would like more information about our upcoming M.E./C.F.S. e-learning course. This same person also said that ‘anyone I know who claims to have funds is not letting go’ ie. paying for specialist training is not an option, the corporate business prefers to create in-house training instead.

In relation to the current M.E./C.F.S. global health crisis, we have a key point to make. How can corporates be more inclusive in terms of staff with M.E./C.F.S. if they have little or no knowledge of what the condition actually is? Currently, most medical staff (worldwide) have received no training on M.E./C.F.S and ‘learn on the job’, disbelief and stigma in the profession trickles down to the next generation and many still believe that this condition, that was recognised by the World Health Organisation as neurological decades ago, is ‘all in our heads’. If these medically trained people don’t know about the condition how can a HR professional, business manager, or Head of Diversity and Inclusion claim to? (To be clear, a few do but most don’t). Worldwide, only M.E./C.F.S. patients, charities and a few specialist doctors /researchers truly understand the condition.

The #valuable500 global movement will make great progress for visible disabilities but, without specialist education about hidden chronic illnesses such as M.E./C.F.S, the potential for progress will be limited. #Valuable500 posted this advert https://twitter.com/i/status/1090986072962621440. A number of people with hidden disabilities responded to this post by pointing out that people with disabilities may well have been included in commercials, you just wouldn’t know it. Not every disability is visible. Lady Gaga has a disability, she has Fibromyalgia, you just can’t see her condition.

The founder of #valuable500, Caroline Casey, is taking part in a http://www.axschat.com/ ‘chat’, here is a list of some of the topics that will be discussed http://www.axschat.com/axschat-questions/. We are particularly interested in question 4:

Q4 #valuable500 is asking for CEOs to put #disability on the board agenda and commit to a single initiative in year 1. What would you choose as your initiative if you were the CEO of a global company wanting to be more inclusive and less #DiversISH?

If we were a CEO of a global company we would put M.E./C.F.S. training on our board agenda. M.E./C.F.S. affects 3/1000 in the UK. It is twice as common as M.S. Dealing with M.E./C.F.S. in the workplace should be a top priority. Keep the 25% of M.E./C.F.S. patients who are able to work in work, help to lower our economic burden which currently stands at £3.3 BILLION per year (2014/15 statistic).

Stripy Lightbulb CIC knows that progress for the M.E./C.F.S community will only come from the education of others.

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