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Besant picked for accessibility team

AIA boss Wayne Besant has been appointed to a leadership group who will work to improve accessibility for people with disabilities in New Zealand.

Saturday, December 20th 2014, 1:52PM

The “Fab 50” is a group of businesspeople assembled by The Be. Institute, a social enterprise that works throughout the country to improve the accessibility of organisations and infrastructure for social and economic benefit.

Be. Institute founder and CEO Minnie Baragwanath, who was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to people with disabilities, says the Be. Institute’s Fab 50 list of influential leaders, which is expected to evolve over time, will contribute to accelerating the New Zealand accessibility movement.

“Accessibility is one of the major leadership challenges facing countries and economies in the 21st century. It is a way of ensuring we put people at the heart of all we do as a society. Great businesses have always understood that treating people well – employees and customers – is the key to success, and great businesses in the 21st century will be the ones who understand that this must include the 24% who have access needs of some kind.”

At any given time, 24% of the population will identify as having an accessibility issue, which can range from the permanent, such as sight and hearing impairment and paralysis, to the temporary, such as people with infants and toddlers and those recovering from injury. The Be. Institute’s work to make New Zealand 100% accessible is intended to maximize productivity and employment and enable companies to sell to all markets.

Baragwanath says a drive for accessibility also makes sense from a tourism point of view. “In Australia, 4.2 million people with a disability spend more than AU$4.8 billion on tourism and hospitality annually. This figure could be extrapolated for New Zealand, given the value of tourism in our economy and that 20% of people in our major international tourism markets report a disability.”

Baragwanath says every member of the Be. Institute Fab 50 shares her deep understanding of these issues and commitment to reaching the goals of the Be Institute.

Others on the list include Paula Rebstock, Sir Bob Harvey, Sharon Hunter, Simon Power and Mike Chunn.

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