Celebrating International Day of People with Disabilities

Published on 2 December 2022
International Day of People with Disabilities article

 At Liberty we believe that recognising, appreciating, and applying the unique insights, perspectives and backgrounds of each person cultivates an atmosphere of trust and respect. It is also key to our success in engaging with all people and possibilities across differences.

To show our appreciation and allyship for people with disabilities, in December we will celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities. The day was set up by the UN in 1992 to bring awareness about the importance of equality for people with disabilities in all areas of society.

While we are proud to celebrate this international day of recognition, we recognise that creating a more inclusive workplace and society won’t be achieved by one day’s work. That’s why we work year-round to promote greater equity and inclusion for people with disabilities in our company and in the communities in which we operate.

We believe that listening to and embracing a range of diverse voices is integral to ensuring equality for people with disabilities in all areas of society. For that reason, we have teamed up with a group of inspiring and successful people with disabilities across Europe.

By listening to this group and their lived experiences we hope to gain a greater understanding of how we can be better allies for people with disabilities. In addition, by giving this group a larger platform, we hope to give greater visibility for people with disabilities and their rights in society.

In Ireland, we have partnered with Joanne O’Riordan and Jack Kavanagh.

Joanne O'Riordan


Joanne is a sports journalist and is only one of seven people in the world living with a rare physical disability known as Total Amelia. This means she was born without all four limbs and even though there is no medical explanation as to why this happened, Joanne or indeed her family has never allowed it to hold her back. She has spoken before the UN and was named Young Person of the Year at the People of the Year awards in 2012.

Jack Kavanagh


Jack Kavanagh is a pharmacist, activist, and public speaker. Jack is host of the Only Human Podcast and sits on the board of directors of the National Disability Authority and Centre for Excellence in Universal Design as well as leadership development organisation Common Purpose Ireland. In 2012, Jack Kavanagh suffered a life changing spinal cord injury leaving him with 15% muscle function and in the years since, Jack has challenged the perceived limitations of his situation.  In 2014, Jack gave the acclaimed TEDx Talk “Fearless Like A Child, Overcoming Adversity” and in 2019 was awarded as one of “Ten Outstanding Young People Of The Year”.

Under our slogan “moved by values”, together with these activists, we will continue to push for progress in the society and in the communities in which our customers and employees live and work. Because ultimately, this ambition is driven forward by our deep-rooted corporate values. Both Jack and Joanne have shared their experiences and insight with Liberty employees this year. Our employees told us that they left the event feeling inspired and in awe of both Jack and Joanne. The two activists also participated in the IWA Run’n’Roll races, supported by Liberty Insurance, with Jack coming 3rd overall in the men’s 5km.

From a company perspective, DEI is how we do business, and we’ll continue to invest in it to create a stronger team and organisation. In 2020, we reflected this commitment through our multi-year action plan. The setting up of the aforementioned DEI Council is one of the employee actions included in the DEI Global Plan. Acting on our DEI plan is one powerful way we build a high-performing and innovative workforce where people of all backgrounds can grow in their careers, foster stronger relationships with colleagues, and deliver a superior customer experience.

A core pillar of our work in the communities in which we operate is the promotion of greater equity and inclusion for people with disabilities. As part of this commitment, we have been hosting Madrid’s famous ‘Carrera Liberty’ since 2008. The race aims to give greater visibility for people with disabilities and promotes a more inclusive society for those with functional disabilities. In addition, we have been supporting the Spanish Paralympic Committee for more than 10 years, with the creation of the Liberty team of Paralympic Athletics Promises in 2012. Throughout this time, we have donated over €257,000 to this great cause.

In 2022, we are bringing spirit of the ‘Carrera Liberty’ to all our European markets. In September, the IWA Run’n’Roll event, supported by Liberty Insurance, represented the first ever Liberty Race in Ireland. In December, in addition to celebrating International Day of People with Disabilities, we will be cheering on the Portuguese edition of the Liberty Race which will see the streets of Cascais in Portugal filled with participants running for inclusion.