On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Accor’s SVP Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Social Care Anne-Sophie Beraud sat down with Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee, to discuss the opportunities ahead in promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities and the importance of Paris 2024 as a catalyst for change.
Discover the Video of their Letter to the Future “Shifting Mindsets on Disability”
Around 16% of the world’s population live with a significant form of disability, with 80% of those being invisible. As the United Nations appeals for intensified efforts to get back on track toward the targets set in 2019’s Disability Inclusion Strategy, the upcoming Paris 2024 Paralympic Games present a golden opportunity to shift mindsets.
As a Premium Partner of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Accor is proud to play a role in this journey of awareness-raising. It goes to the very heart of our DNA. Making people with disabilities feel fully, generously welcomed – both through an inclusive workplace for our teams and in our hotels for our clients – goes to the core of Accor’s culture of inclusion and caring.
"Accor is very engaged in the inclusion of persons with disabilities. We all love sports and we are in the hospitality industry and welcoming people is part of our DNA. So, the connection between Paris 2024 and the disability cause is obvious for us."
"Many people with disabilities say that the problem is not in their bodies, but in a society that is not designed for all."
Closing the Understanding Gap: Paris 2024 Paralympic Games as a Catalyst for Change
The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games have the potential to bring lasting gains by shining a positive spotlight on disability, one that will reach four billion people in over 180 countries. As the main global event that puts persons with disabilities at center stage, the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games are about much more than just physical prowess. It’s a four-yearly opportunity to celebrate achievement, to foster understanding, and to accelerate social change.
Athletes also play an important role beyond Paris 2024. Michaël Jeremiasz, a former Paralympic athlete, collaborates closely with Accor to contribute to reinforcing our approach towards persons with disabilities.
“Everyone must have a chance. Everyone must have an opportunity. I think one of the most effective ways to bring this change is to bring together activism and pop culture… We need athletes with disability to become icons and global icons… I believe the Paralympic Games is a catalyst. It is a very good start, and then it is up to societies to keep the ball rolling.”
"When we discuss with persons with disabilities, you understand that what they want is equal opportunity, equal rights. This event is a great opportunity to celebrate inclusion. We are very proud to be a premium partner of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I think this is very important because we need to celebrate difference.”
Inclusive Hospitality: Innovating a Better Experience for All
Accessible technology has a role to play to offer a more inclusive welcome. In hotels, in-room features such as voice-controlled amenities and motion-sensing lighting – as used in Accor’s Smart Room concept – are inclusive innovations that have potential to enhance the experience for all guests.
But technology doesn’t have a monopoly on innovation. It’s also about the new ways of thinking and doing needed to create a truly inclusive workplace culture and client experiences. By redesigning recruitment processes and staff training initiatives, for example, businesses, including hospitality, can raise awareness, promote opportunity, and embed inclusion values deeply within their organizations.
"When you speak with [persons with disabilities] you understand that what they need is quite simple: they just want some small adjustments. I would say that we need to train staff, of course, but also work on a more accessible world in hospitality to welcome all guests. Technology and design can help us to be more inclusive…At the beginning [the Smart Room] was really designed for persons with disabilities. But today it doesn't answer only the needs of persons with a disability, it answers the needs of all people."
“Technology is there to help us build a more inclusive society. It’s about making people with disabilities feel welcome, not only guests in hotels, but also its employees, and all the hospitality chain. If we have more companies like Accor changing their behavior, understanding that they need to go a step further when it comes to inclusion, we really start changing society.”
Building a More Inclusive World Together
For two weeks in 2024, the world will be captivated by the breathtaking physical feats of elite athletes with disabilities. The challenge will be to hold on to that energy and understanding beyond the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games closing ceremony, using it to power greater understanding and concrete improvements 365 days of every year, for all persons with disabilities, all over the world.
As a global community, we have made some progress on creating a more inclusive world for persons with disabilities. The Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a golden opportunity to increase the momentum. Let’s use these Games to accelerate the pace of change towards the equitable, inclusive, and welcoming world that we all want to live in.