Today P&G is celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities across our global sites. We recognize this important day and reflect on the ways in which our company has advocated for people of all abilities since our founding. We’re lighting up our buildings and digital sites in purple on December 3, 2019, to shine a light and increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.
Our longstanding support for people with disabilities started in the early 1900’s when William Procter encouraged and supported the Trader sisters of Cincinnati, Georgia and Florence, to fulfill their vision. Georgia was blind. They shared a passion to enable women who were blind or experienced low vision to be fully independent, educated and employable. In 1903, William Procter purchased 26 acres of land for them, so they could start their mission, Clovernook Farm, in North College Hill. By 1913, they had acquired a Heidelberg press, and today the nonprofit organization is the largest supplier by volume of Braille materials in the world. 20 million sheets are printed annually by a workforce that is almost 50% blind or has low vision.
Today, there are 1.7 billion people worldwide with a disability. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines disability as when a person cannot interact with the environment he or she wants to engage. So, the more accessible the world can be through inclusive products, packaging, advertising and environments, the less disabled people will feel.
As a company committed to serving as a force for good and a force for growth in the world, we feel it is imperative that our company and our products reflect the diversity of our employees and consumers and deliver experiences that accommodate all people.
Julio Nemeth, Chief Supply Officer and Executive Sponsor of P&G’s People with Disabilities network sums it up perfectly. “I had the privilege to sponsor this network from its beginning in 2015. I wanted to make an impact, and in return, the network and their individuals have made an impact on me that will last for the rest of my life. I had the chance to experience their extraordinary ability to solve problems differently; their heart touching humility; their comfort with their own disability; their sense of humor; and what I have enjoyed the most is their rich and diverse thinking on any topic. I learned that there are more than 1 billion disabled people worldwide, yet, only 4% of companies are actively creating accessible products and services to them. It is thanks to P&G’s People with Disability Network that we are one of these few companies.”
Through necessity, people with disabilities think differently to solve everyday challenges. This out-of-the-box thinking helps us to create innovations that we can all enjoy every day. P&G is including consumers and employees with disabilities in the design of our products, packaging, advertising and facilities to create superior experiences for everyone. We’re making progress each day, and recognize we have a long way to go.
We strive to accommodate P&G employees with all abilities, with initiatives such as live captioning our webcasts for employees with hearing loss and working to expand our talent pool with more diverse recruitment. Inspired by Scott Van Nice, our deaf colleague, we are partnering with Gallaudet University, the world’s largest Deaf university, to better assess and recruit deaf students and help them be effective from day one. Similarly, employees with personal experience of neurodiversity are helping us to recruit neurodiverse candidates such as those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia. Programs have been launched in P&G’s UK, Boston, Costa Rica and Cincinnati offices to learn as a company how to hire this dynamic talent and to harness candidates’ unique problem-solving skills.
Phil Duncan, our Chief Design Officer shares that, “While many people might see disability as an unfortunate aspect of life, I have often witnessed how a disability in one area can bring out amazing abilities in others. I have had the privilege to meet some amazing individuals and witness the power of how people with limited or no sight bring incredible insight, empathy and passion to the design of our products. And that by designing for someone with “extreme needs,” we can actually make our products that much more delightful for every person.”
Our brands are making strides towards inclusive advertising and product design. We aim to make our products easy to distinguish by touch alone for people with low or no vision, a population made up of ~283 million people worldwide. P&G’s first ever Accessibility Leader Sumaira (Sam) Latif joined forces with Herbal Essences to make it easier for vision-impaired consumers to differentiate between shampoo and conditioner through touch, and designed the first inclusive bottle with tactile markings.
Our employees with disabilities are helping us understand how our decisions affect the disability community. Bugra Tiras, our UK eCommerce leader reflected, “When I saw how a blind colleague shops online, I was shocked at how hard it was. I didn’t realize that to compare products and prices easily, you need to see them. And if you can’t, you are forced to listen to the embedded audio description on every page, which is overwhelming. I realized I was clueless about accessibility in eCommerce despite working on it for many years. Digging deeper, I found many people struggling to shop online due to various disabilities. We are now making the online shopping experience easier for people with disabilities. It feels great to do something that helps people’s lives while helping the business.”
We hope you will join us to recognize International Day of People with Disabilities. P&G is proud of what we’ve achieved and looking ahead to continue to build a company that is even more inclusive for people with disabilities and innovates products and packages that create irresistibly superior experiences for all.