By Braulio Giron, Jr. on August 30, 2019
The company brought together professionals engaged in different diversity and inclusivity initiatives to share their insights and expertise in how companies can be designed into ‘everyone’s workplace’
According to the latest fact-sheets compiled by the United Nations and World Health Organization, about 15-percent of the world’s estimated population of one-billion lives with some form of disability. Among them, almost eighty-percent are of legal working age. Unfortunately, unemployment among persons with disabilities reportedly continues to be just as high in many countries, with some being a similar eighty-percent.
This is not to say that things are not progressing, as some companies (and even legislators) have begun to develop programs and implement policies which help better ensure that persons with disabilities are afforded the same opportunities to work and subsequently succeed as the rest of the population. Still, there remains a lot of work to be done, as some employers continue to have reservations about employing persons with disabilities.
For the August 2019 edition of its monthly Kalibrr Communities events, Kalibrr decided to help further the discussion by gathering recruitment, talent, and operations executives to discuss how to design an inclusive company, with speakers sharing the successes they’ve had and the challenges they continue to experience in pushing for equal opportunities in the workforce.
Aptly titled Kalibrr Communities: Everyone’s Workplace, the event held at the Kickstart Ventures mezzanine was hosted by Maria Criselda “Krissy” Bisda who, despite having an advanced case of retinitis pigmentosa (a rare genetic disorder that leads to blindness) serves as the Associate Technical Consultant on Inclusion at Inclusive Development and Empowerment Agenda (IDEA) and is a graduate studies professor teaching Industrial Relations in De La Salle University (DLSU).
First to share his insights at the event was Sherlo Reyes, who is the Center Director for the Partnership & Development Office of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies. Speaking from his experiences as Center Director and citing worldwide data, he particularly touched on how persons with disabilities are not always impeded by their condition, but more often by the barriers imposed on them.
“Sometimes it’s not the person that is disabled, but the attitude we have towards them or the environment we provide them that makes them disabled. We have to remember- in every person are internal dimensions, or those features that we don’t have control of like being blind or deaf, are precursors of external dimensions that prevent us to work”.
Reyes added that companies who have reservations about hiring persons with disability should not be daunted by the idea, and should consider working with others to remove this and other barriers.
“We have to accept that we don’t understand all of it (diversity), so it would be good to partner with other organizations to better meet it.”
Changing the Narrative
Following Reyes was Project Inclusion Network Operations Manager Jim Nemeno. His insights included how employers can take the lead in changing the narrative about persons with disabilities, starting with they themselves looking at their employment as more of a business decision as opposed to charity.
“Change the narrative that hiring people with disabilities are not a charity case, but a business case. Because throughout our experience, when companies provide opportunities to them reap the rewards of these employees’ increased adaptive functioning, their being an untapped labor market, and the resulting positive brand reputation.”
Reyes also emphasized that for diversity and inclusion initiatives to succeed, those who it is for must also be at the helm.
"Persons with Disability must set the standard of diversity and inclusion. You should let them lead and represent your diversity and inclusion agenda. Hiring persons with disabilities is a win-win situation. The person with disability wins, and the company wins.”
An Overall Employee Experience
Rounding out the talks during Everyone’s Workplace was Accenture Inclusion & Diversity and Talent Strategy Manager Tom Wagan, who for his part, talked about making inclusion and diversity initiatives an overall employee experience. He highlighted how policy and engagement is what helped them do this effectively at Accenture.
“Policy is important your inclusivity agendas, because it is in writing and gives it teeth to be better practiced in the company. Then you also engage them (marginalized employees/persons with disabilities) and ask them what they need, because in the end, will be the recipients of what you are doing.”
Echoing the speakers who shared their insights before him, Wagan also mentioned how while there will surely be challenges, pursuing diversity and inclusion initiatives will be beneficial for any company.
“Creating a culture of equality is important in the war for talent because we have to be able to mimic the ideas in the real world that will move our business forward. And those ideas are reflected by different and diverse minds. And companies who employ and support Persons with Disabilities outperform their peers.”
After the speakers had the opportunity to share their insights and field questions related to their discussions, they all gathered together to answer queries from the attendees as a group. The panel discussion was moderated by the current Technical Adviser for Inclusive Employment of Humanity & Inclusion - Philippines, Jen Mendoza, who, as a person with cerebral palsy, works as an advocate for disability rights and has extensive experience in community development and social work, and also shared her insights at the gathering.
To learn more about Kalibrr Communities, or to partner with Kalibrr for future events, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kalibrr is a technology company that aims to transform how candidates find jobs and how companies hire talent. Placing the candidate experience at the center of everything it does, the company continues to attract the best talent from all over, with over 2.3 million professionals and counting. Kalibrr ultimately connects these talents to companies in search of their next generation of leaders.
The only end-to-end recruitment solutions provider in Southeast Asia, Kalibrr is headquartered in Makati, Philippines, with offices in San Francisco, California and Jakarta, Indonesia. Established in 2012, it has served over 18,000 clients and is backed by some of the world’s most powerful start-up incubators and venture capitalists. These include Y Combinator, Omidyar Network, Patamar Capital, Wavemaker Partners, and Kickstart Ventures.