“To create a fully-inclusive working environment, it is necessary to address all the ignorance and prejudices associated with disabilities. Working hand in hand with a competent human resources consultancy, company leaders and their current employees will gain access to the knowledge required to break down the barriers to employment,” says Scott Barrett, Managing Director of NOVA Human Capital Solutions.
Although it may seem unimaginable in a society that claims to encourage an all-inclusive and fully transformed workplace, the issue of employing people with disabilities is still a hot topic in recruitment.
There are still a great deal of corporate and small- to medium-sized organisations that simply overlook the benefits of employing people with disabilities, because they are under the misapprehension that the process would be too difficult or just completely impossible.
However, as Human Resources consultants we’ve seen a complete change in thinking when business leaders gain a deeper understanding of the benefits associated with an all-inclusive working environment. Being reluctant to include people with disabilities in an organisation’s recruitment efforts will severely limit access to a rich source of highly talented individuals, who can make a tremendously positive impact on an organisation.
According to Stats SA, the national disability prevalence rate is 7,5% in South Africa with a greater prevalence among women than men. Being amongst the most marginalised members of society, people with severe disabilities experience much difficulty in accessing education and employment opportunities.
To create an inclusive working environment, it is necessary to address all the ignorance and prejudice associated with disabilities. Working hand in hand with a competent human resources consultancy, company leaders and their current employees will gain access to the knowledge required to break down the barriers to employment. This is usually addressed by a comprehensive review of internal policies, training and reviewing the workplace infrastructure.
Another aspect that deserves serious consideration is the fact that any single one of a company’s current employees may become affected by disability at any point. If an employee is involved in an accident that results in some sort of metal or physical disability, what policies does the organisation have in place? Perhaps the individual will not have the capacity to continue in their current role, but what about other opportunities within the same company?
By employing people with disabilities, the organisation is also supporting national legislation in terms of Employment Equity (EE), Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE), and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Working with a human resources consultancy means that your organisation will gain access to a pool of individuals that already have the necessary training, which will result in them potentially being an excellent fit for your organisation. If the appointed individual needs additional experience, then an intensive training programme will ensure that the organisation will gain in terms of their B-BBEE scorecard under Employment Equity as well as Skills Development. Placing a person with a disability on a learnership programme, means that the company can claim up to R100 000.00 in tax rebates per learner, very often exceeding the value of the business’ investment in the learnership itself.
All the legislative benefits aside, people living with disabilities are generally an excellent asset to an organisation, in terms of hard work, commitment, enthusiasm and a positive outlook.