Diversity initiatives and inclusive platitudes from business execs are easy to come by, but action is a harder sell. On Thursday, the issue of disability was discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos for the first time ever, and advocacy group The Valuable 500 used the opportunity to launch its “Diversish” campaign, a tongue-in-cheek parody of the typical jargon spun by businesses that know they need to appear interested in diversity but don’t want to be bothered to actually do anything.
The central conceit in a series of seven spots is the “Diversish Top 100,” a satirical award for companies with a lukewarm commitment to inclusion. Presenter Chris sits down with recipients and asks them to describe the ways their organizations have considered the needs of people with disabilities.
Responses range from dismissive to unintentionally offensive. The execs stumble into rhetorical minefields with hilarious and cringeworthy results. “We have women. Lots of women. They’re, like, everywhere,” one man blurts out when asked if there are any people with disabilities on the management team. Quite pleased with himself, he points to the man next to him. “Tim is Asian, and gay, too. Which is great. Two-for-one right there.”
The other business leaders are just as cheerfully obtuse. When asked why her clothing line doesn’t have options for people with disabilities, even though Tommy Hilfiger released a line in 2016, a fashion exec brightens. “I love Tommy. He’s a dear friend.”
To show off his company’s one employee who uses a wheelchair, an insurance CEO has him physically pushed into the interview space and parades him like a curiosity, to everyone’s obvious discomfort but his own. The spots from AMV BBDO are directed by Outsider’s James Rouse.
The Valuable 500 premieres with a session at Davos where the group challenged 500 businesses to put the topic if disability on their board agendas this year. So far, Unilever, Microsoft, Barclays, Fujitsu, Cinepolis and Accenture have signed up. Amplifying the message on social media are disability advocates including Virgin founder Richard Branson, Paralympic basketball player Ade Adepitan, actress Sam Renke, activist Will Pike and TV presenter Adam Pearson.