Kanchi is a not-for-profit disability organisation that works to change mindsets and behaviours around disability. Kanchi works with decision makers and leaders to promote the Disability Business Case through unique, innovative and effective business initiatives.
People with disabilities are amongst the most excluded members of society, driven by stereotypes of pity, charity and deficit. Almost 10% of the Irish population, about 360,000 people, live with a disability. 70% of these people are unemployed, with 38% living in poverty. Throughout Europe, disability rights groups have campaigned successfully for progressive legislation. However, businesses are resisting change for a number of reasons including the cost and complexity of compliance, a lack of knowledge, and a perception that people with disabilities are incapacitated.
Kanchi leads a new way of thinking; one that promotes the value of people with disabilities to society. We believe that the business community has the greatest capacity to lead this change. Business and media leadership have demonstrated their critical role in driving positive change for other social problems; disability should be no different. However, to enable business and media to be that catalyst we have to ensure that they are informed, skilled, and supported in a way that makes business sense. When business values the disability community as customers, talent, and part of the communities they serve, people with disabilities will be more included, have access to products and services that provide a way of life many of us take for granted.
The Ability Awards, designed and managed by Kanchi, recognise and reward private businesses and public-sector organisations that strive to meet the needs of people with disabilities as employees and consumers. While The Ability Awards culminate in a one-night event, they are a 7 month long process involving a six-stage selection process with two panel days of judging by leading business and citizen-sector figures. International interest in the Ability Awards has created the opportunity to replicate internationally, and in 2010 Kanchi launched for the first time in Spain, thanks to a partnership with Telefonica. In 2011, Kanchi and Telefónica announced a unique global franchise collaboration that will see the Ability Awards rolled out across five countries around the world over the next five years. As there is currently is no international benchmark that businesses can work towards in the area of disability, Kanchi is also developing a Kanchi Standard. This product will be introduced as a Standard to promote Best Practice in Business relating to the inclusion of people with disabilities. It will create a platform for organisations to continuously improve and promote learning and development. Ultimately it is hoped that this standard will be recognised as the global standard for disability in business. Building on the success of the Ability Awards, Kanchi has also launched a new business membership network.