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Davos call to embrace value of disability

Social entrepreneur Caroline Casey has put disability on the main stage at an elite forum where business leaders are likely masking their true selves.

Only three per cent of CEOs would go public about a disability or caregiving role, according to a recent survey by The Valuable 500 collective of global firms.

Ms Casey launched Valuable at the World Economic Forum in Davos four years ago to encourage businesses to tap into the skills and consumer power of 1.3 billion people living with disabilities worldwide.

"Let's be honest, disability has never been on a platform like this ever before," she told AAP from Davos.

"You're here to hustle, and you can pretty much hustle and meet more people than you can imagine," she said.

"It's about using the power of business to end disability exclusion."

Valuable's members in Australia already include some of the country's biggest employers in retail, banking and business services, as well as international firms with a local footprint and influence.

"The reason we chose business is I'm just so sick of this holding pattern of hope that things will change," she said.

"We need business ... hope gets exhausting."

Legally blind, Valuable CEO and founder Ms Casey said she came out of the "disability closet" and wants others to be able to do the same.

If companies gather disability data, with employees and carers able to identify themselves anonymously in workplace surveys, it could be a powerful data set for change.

People with a disability or caring for a family member would also be less tired or fearful and more productive, she said.

One in six Australians have a disability, and more than one third of households include a person with disability.

This year her push at Davos is for business to adopt disability inclusion performance measures and report on progress.

Getting disability talent into executive suites and boardrooms, seeing people with disability in company communications and advertising, and gathering more data will be crucial, she said.

"Without data these companies, and society by the way, can get off the hook."

Some already report, but there is no standardisation, so she has set a challenge.

"We want every one of our 500 disability companies putting disability performance in their annual report, at least by the end of 2025," Ms Casey said.

Employee resource groups, specific goals for budgets, training and accessibility are recommended practical measures.

Then the metrics can be pushed into international ratings agencies' reports and global business tools such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, she said.

There is a business reporting framework already available for the environmental, social and governance factors that affect the way companies operate.

"But disability is weirdly invisible," Ms Casey said.

She wants to get "D" for disability into the social priorities of ESG.

An international report from the Return on Disability Group found although 90 per cent of companies claim to prioritise diversity, only four per cent consider disability in their workplace policies.

"I don't want their money, I want their action," Ms Casey said.

Ms Casey launched a report at Davos called 'ESG and disability data: a call for inclusive reporting'.