A new feature appearing on the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) website explores the importance of employing individuals with disabilities. The article features Yves Veulliet, who lost the use of his legs in an accident when he was 21 years old.
Veulliet, who found a job 25 years ago with IBM as a Global Disability and Inclusion manager, states that fear of the unknown plays a key role in the employment of individuals with disabilities. According to the article, evidence indicates that once employers overcome their fear of the unknown, hiring and working with individuals with disabilities becomes natural.
The article also emphasizes the key role of the work environment, highlighting not only the importance of its physical aspects, but also of the work culture and an inclusive atmosphere.
“…an employer’s mission is to provide me with an enabling environment so I can manage my disability, and my mission as an employee is to manage my disability and my work. Roles must be clear for both,” Veulliet points out.
The highly accessible nature of IBM when he joined, Veulliet says, made him feel as though his disability had vanished. During his presentations about disability inclusion, Veulliet asks managers to ask themselves why they should hire an individual with a disability when they can hire an individual without disabilities.
“The answer is companies do not have to hire a person with a disability. They have to hire someone with the appropriate skills to perform a given job. If that person happens to have a disability, so be it, but disability is not the point,” Veulliet says.
The article also reports that an added benefit to employers is that consumers are likely to look favorably upon companies that employ individuals with disabilities.
A major drive for inclusion in Indonesia yielded legislation that mandates individuals with disabilities must make up 1% of the company’s workforce. The ILO and International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s partnership, Better Work, aims to assist companies in Indonesia in complying with the law. To date, the article says, three of the 90 suppliers Better Work works with a fully compliant with the legislation.
Simon Field, Chief Technical Advisor for Better Work Indonesia, acknowledges that, “There is still a lot of work to be done. But it’s a start.” Multinationals are also reportedly pushing their suppliers to become disability inclusive.
The articles states that employers are now realizing that employees with disabilities have a lot to contribute, “It’s not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do,” says Sreela Das Gupta, Global Diversity and Inclusion manager at Tata Consulting Services.