What is a disability?
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines a person living with a disability as “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”
Hundreds of millions of people worldwide have disabilities that affect their day-to-day life, but which may not be apparent to the outside world. If someone uses a wheelchair or is visually impaired, it can be easier for some to understand the difficulties they might face and to offer adequate support. But for people living with so-called invisible disabilities, it’s often a different story. Some of these invisible and lessor known disabilities include: Dyslexia, Diabetes, Chronic Pain, Depression, Asthma, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Epilepsy and more.
Fostering an inclusive environment for all
By focusing on each person’s unique abilities, AXA works to maintain an inclusive environment for employees with disabilities. In addition to cultivating a workplace that is inclusive and accessible for people of all abilities, AXA aims to instil a culture that gives all employees permission to proactively manage their experiences at work, to feel comfortable requesting accommodations, and to help all of us make our workplace a healthier, happier and more productive environment for everyone – including those living with “invisible” disabilities.
Indeed, workplace barriers are not limited to explicit accessibility issues, such as the presence of elevators, ramps or handrails. Many times, these barriers include smaller, more discrete exchanges that can impact an employee’s confidence and participation. In order to counter these negative effects and improve our culture of accessibility, we have chosen to accelerate our commitment to making disability inclusion a priority, notably through the following efforts.
The Valuable 500
The Valuable 500 is a global movement to put disability inclusion on the global business leadership agenda. The campaign is calling for 500 of the most influential business leaders and their brands to ignite systemic change by unlocking the business, social and economic value of the 1.3 billion people living with disabilities around the world. Thomas Buberl, AXA CEO, committed to joining The Valuable 500 in September 2019, thereby ensuring that disability inclusion continues to be incorporated into our business strategy.
Business Charter on Disability
In 2015, AXA made an official commitment to support people with disabilities by signing the Business Charter on Disability developed by the International Labour Organization (ILO). In this context, the Group has committed to recruiting, training and raising awareness among our managers in order to promote a better understanding of disability and improve our integration of employees with disabilities.
Business and Disability Network
In 2014, AXA became a member of the Business and Disability Network of the ILO (International Labor Organization), which enables AXA to share and implement best practices with other global corporations. AXA’s community of Disability & Inclusion managers are now assembling a toolkit of best practices to serve as a model on various aspects of disability inclusion.
Our commitment to disability inclusion
Ability inclusivity continues to be an important priority for AXA, and that is why we will work to:
- Reduce the stigma of disability in a workplace;
- Provide training to managers to support employees of all abilities;
- Publish accessibility guidelines for online communications;
- Advance a policy that promotes a culture of ability inclusivity.
“Three years ago, a period of depression led to me being diagnosed as Autistic. Far from being limiting, this has been one of the most liberating periods of my life, both personally and professionally. AXA encourages me to embrace my differences, which are seen as strengths, and to bring 100% of myself to work each day.”
“I was born with an untreatable physical disability. As a child, I was unable to go to school, but it was always my dream to receive an education like any able-bodied person. With hard work, I obtained a Master’s degree and was promoted to manager. I will not let my differences stop me from embracing all the opportunities life has to offer.”
“I was born deaf and my first language is sign language. At AXA, I am encouraged to connect with people of all backgrounds. For example, as the leader of the Deaf Sign Language ERG, I am helping to launch a remote sign language service for customers with hearing impairments.”
“I’ve had a physical disability since the age of 16, but it has not stopped me from giving my best in all that I do. As part of the Change Management, Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) team at AXA, I am responsible for encouraging and supporting all employees as we embrace D&I as part of our DNA.”
“Disability is a matter of perception: abled does not mean more abled, while disabled does not mean less abled. Even though I have partial vision loss, I did not lose my ability to see the world nor my vision for the future. Our culture of inclusion makes me proud to be an Axarian.”