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Yohei Sasakawa
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Participating in Early-Hours Virtual Conference with Global CEOs on Disability Business Inclusion [2022/07/22]
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At 2:30 a.m. on June 21, 2022, I attend a virtual conference via Zoom with 8 CEOs representing The Valuable 500 on including persons with disabilities in business through access to jobs, products and services.


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, online or virtual international conferences are the new norm.

Of course, nothing beats physical communication. In-person conferences provide greater networking opportunities and allow conversations to flow naturally and smoothly.

But virtual international conferences eliminate the need to travel, thus cutting costs and saving time, and reduce the event’s carbon footprint. They also make global reach and participation possible.

At 2:30 a.m. on June 21, I took part in an international virtual conference via Zoom joined by 8 CEOs of the world’s largest companies, including Mr. Tim Cook, Global CEO of Apple (U.S.); Mr. David S. Taylor, Executive Chairman of the Board at Procter & Gamble (U.S.); Mr. Oliver Baete, Global CEO of Allianz (Germany); and Mr. Tim Davie, Director-General of BBC (U.K.).

They represent The Valuable 500, a business network grouping CEOs of 500 global companies committed to including persons with disabilities in business through access to jobs, products and services.

The Nippon Foundation joined the business initiative in January 2021 as a Global Impact Partner by providing support totaling $5 million over three years in line with the foundation’s signature policy of aiming to create an inclusive society in which people with disabilities can actively participate without discrimination.

I decided to support The Valuable 500 as thus far there has not been major visible progress in employing persons with disabilities globally whatever declarations or decisions the United Nations or international conferences have made.

I believe the involvement of these global business leaders can be “a game changer” to create employment for the world’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities and develop products and services for them. The global purchasing power of persons with disabilities, their families and friends, is said to total $13 trillion, a market bigger than China.

Launched by Ms. Caroline Casey, an Irish social entrepreneur who is visually impaired, at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2019, the initiative aims to promote reforms that will enable persons with disabilities to demonstrate their potential social, business and economic value.

To attend the 2:30 a.m. conference on June 21, I had a few hours’ sleep in The Nippon Foundation’s nap room before joining the world’s top business leaders across the globe. The nap room enables our staffers to stay overnight to cope speedily and effectively in the event of natural disaster.

So far, I have barely had an opportunity to work with the world’s top business leaders. But I am convinced now that The Valuable 500 CEOs will become true game changers, determined to create jobs for people with disabilities and develop and produce goods and services catering to them.

The other CEOs who joined the June 21 virtual conference were Mr. Hans Vestberg, Global CEO of Verizon (U.S.); Mr. Bret Taylor, Global Co-CEO of Salesforce (U.S.); Ms. Sharon Thorne, Global Chair of Deloitte (U.K.); and Mr. Carmine Di Sibio, Global CEO of EY (U.K.).
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