According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1 billion people, about 15% of the world's population, have some form of disability. Forecasts indicate that this number will increase as a result of demographic trends and the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions. That is why the International Day of Persons with Disabilities seeks to create real opportunities in terms of inclusion, accessibility and employment for this sector of the population. Only through lasting improvements in these areas will persons with disabilities be better positioned to fully participate in all aspects of life and to become agents of change. Currently, according to the European Commission, 28.4% of people with disabilities in the EU are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared to 17.8% of the general population. An indicator that shows the need for reflection and action to change these statistics.
At Disability Hub Europe we seek to generate a sustainable cultural change in companies and organizations, which favors moving towards a total commitment to inclusion of persons with disabilities in the economic sphere as a necessary condition to achieve sustainability. To this end, we are strongly aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and our actions reinforce the European strategy on the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030.
Undoubtedly, alliances are essential to be able to fulfill this ambitious mission. One of the primary partners of the DHub initiative is GRI, global leader in the field of sustainability reporting standards. GRI has, for several decades, been at the forefront of providing guidance and indicators to assist corporations and organizations in navigating the increasingly complex task of reporting on their material impacts on the economy, environmenl and people. And as the social dimension of sustainability, including issues related to disability, diversity and inclusion, have increasing grown in prominence in recent years, the GRI Standards have advanced and evolved to capture these new and emerging priorities. To ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in the transitions towards sustainability, GRI has been actively supporting organizations on reporting their contributions to diversity and inclusion.
Already in 2015, GRI worked closely with the ONCE Fundación, leader of the DHub initiative, in the development of a guide designed to help organizations measure and communicate their commitment to respect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities, in addition to helping organizations understand the potential and often untapped talents of the disabled: Disability in sustainability standards. The guide was revised and updated in 2019, in the framework of the DHub initiative, allowing companies to improve their assessment of their disability-related activities and policies and communicate their impact using the GRI Standards. The updated publication included examples and input from leading corporations, most notably in reference to linkages to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the coming months DHub, in close collaboration with GRI, will publish an additional update to this valuable guide, taking into account changes in the recently revised Universal Standards.
“The inclusion of human rights due diligence in our major update to the Universal Standards, in line with intergovernmental expectations as set forth by the UN and OECD, uniquely positions GRIs reporting to respond to increasing expectations from investors and other stakeholders that companies integrate human rights reporting into their strategy, risk assessment and operational policies and actions. This human rights based perspective has important implications for the inclusion in sustainability reporting of metrics on persons with disabilities. The ongoing update of GRIs Labor Standards will further strengthen this focus on basic human rights and stress the need for companies to be accountable for their impacts on vulnerable populations, including persons with disabilities.
Harold Pauwels, Director Standards at GRI
Likewise, it is worth highlighting the role of GRI together with the United Nations Global Compact, in the development of an innovative initiative: Business Reporting on the SDGs: An analysis on the goals and targets, which seeks to promote the linkages between the GRI Standards and the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact. In this way, companies are able to incorporate and report on their progress with respect to disability inclusion in order to improve their performance, which will enable significant progress towards achieving the SDGs. Measurement, evaluation, transparency and accountability are integral parts of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At DHub, we continue to work towards strengthening transparency and accountability with a uniform approach to monitoring progress, inspiring the leadership and encouraging the setting of ambitious targets on the Ten Principles and the SDGs. GRI has also recently launched a new series of briefs, GRI Perspective, in January 2022, that dives below the surface of key sustainability reporting trends and developments, providing valuable guidance to companies seeking to advance in the ESG goals.