Caroline Casey, founder of the Irish social enterprise Kanchi, said that boosting inclusion creates a competitive advantage for businesses.
She told an audience of high-level inclusion experts, academics, business executives and social entrepreneurs that inclusion could be “the new green”, a movement that begins “on the margins” but then becomes mainstream. She wants Kanchi to lead a new global movement around “design for all”.
She said: “We are going to learn everything from the green movement. We are going to create that huge movement for change.
“This revolution around inclusive business is the new competitive advantage. It is morally right but also an extraordinary opportunity.
“What we are challenging businesses to think about is, ‘Do you want to be an early adopter… for something that is going to fundamentally change our world?'”
She added: “Exclusion is really just a very bad habit. The good thing about habits is they can change. It is not complicated.”
Casey was speaking at an event in London organised by the telecommunications giant Telefonica – O2’s parent company – which examined how the digital industry can make technology accessible to disabled people.
She said: “There is a really strong economic case for business and disability to work together – forget charity, forget pity – if you create better products that more people can use.”
Kanchi is a network that aims to make the case for inclusive business. It has already signed up Telefonica for its campaign to create a global movement to push for “design for all”, but wants four more leading global brands on board by next year.
Casey added: “The only thing that is going to stop us creating an inclusive world is apathy and allowing the ingrained habit to continue to exist.
“You may say you are not excluding, but by doing nothing you are.”
Kanchi already runs The Ability Awards, which promotes best practice on including disabled people as employees, customers, suppliers and members of the community.
The awards programme is staged in Spain and Ireland, but Kanchi plans to roll it out internationally to another 10 countries within five years.
28 May 2014