I was at a meeting recently, where the topic of employment for people with a disability was being discussed. The meeting had representatives from all areas of business, government and the not-for-profit sector.
I was mightily surprised, in fact, that the business leaders at that meeting saw the answer to the astonishingly shameful employment rate of people with a disability as philanthrophy.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a right time and a right place for philanthropy in our society. It achieves great things, and enables organisations to fund necessary and vital relief for people in our society.
But it doesn’t actually employ a person in your business. It doesn’t help anyone enter your specific workforce with a disability.
The problem is, we’re expecting the person with the disability to adapt to our ‘normal’ workplaces. And it’s easier to throw money at the problem rather than look at our own businesses and start to include people with a disability in our workplace.
The expectation is that the person will be needy, expensive, unreliable and constantly needing supervisory time. Given this stereotypical impression, it seems easier for corporate social responsibility programs to grant large sums of money to other organisations to ‘deal with’ the problem of unemployment for people with a disability.
If it costs, on average, $600 per person with a disability to make reasonable adjustments in any workplace – for which a government grant is available – then why donate hundred of thousands of dollars to a system that doesn’t work, namely, the charities the deliver Disability Employment Services? Why not bite the bullet now and look for the skills, abilities and aptitudes that make people with a disability the exact opposite of the stereotype you think we are?
Establishing an internship program for people with a disability, for example, is a much more practical and cheaper way forward in addressing unemployment levels for people with a disability. We train graduates – many people with a disability hold academic qualifications – and we have indigenous internships, how about disability internships? Paid ones? That’s what would change a life, and change attitudes and stereotypes in the workforce. Here’s what you need to know:
- People with a disability take less sick leave
- People with a disability make fewer workers’ compensation claims
- People with a disability are more loyal to a company over time
- People with a disability only need reasonable adjustment and flexible work in order to make the same, if not better, contribution to your business as any other worker
- People with a disability are lateral thinkers – they’ve had to be in order to manage their lives with a disability.
Enabled Employment have been nominated for, and won awards, locally, nationally and globally, so that we can raise the issue of employment for marginalised groups on big stages.
Our Media and Liaison Manager, Chief Information Officer and me, are all people with a disability. If we three can run our business as a globally award winning and recognised one only 2 years after launching, just imagine what a person with a disability can do for your business – if you give them the chance.
It's no use throwing money at someone else to take care of the problem.
What we need is attitude change. That only happens where employers take charge, establish innovative programs such as internships, and change attitudes in the workplace by employing those with different abilities.
It's your responsibility to affect change in the workforce, not somebody else's.
So what can you do to change the hopes and lives of a person with a disability? We’ve run internship programs before, and we know how to do it. We have thousands of candidates with academic and other qualifications on our website waiting for a job offer with an employer who is willing to take responsibility for changing the world with us.
Touch base with us now.