BCA – Recognising Ability: Business and the Employment of People with Disability

BCA – Recognising Ability: Business and the Employment of People with Disability


For our economy as a whole it’s absolutely
vital that we provide meaningful, rewarding job opportunities for people with a disability.
I think that we always have to remember that one in five Australians have a disability.
Obviously this means a chance for employment, for economic advancement, for a sense of dignity
and purpose. For companies and businesses it means a diversity of their labour market,
it means access to talent. For our country as a whole it means productivity. The biggest
challenge we face is workforce participation, making sure that we maximise the participation
of all Australians. A disability is have one or more impairments
that impact on daily life lasting six months or longer. Disability impacts around 1 in 5 Australians. 15% of our working age population have a disability.
That’s 2.2 million people. 18.5% of the population, have a disability.
That is 4.2 million people. In 2012, 47.5% of all working-age people with
disability were not in the labour force. My name is Majella Knobel, I work at Westpac,
I’m an IT Project Manager and I also chair up Westpac’s accessibility action group, ABLE. I am Rachel Frewen and I’m working at McDonald’s
Head Office but I’m really proud of it. My name is James, I’m 23 years old. I’m currently
studying a bachelor of business, majoring in accounting and finance. The Business Council survey found that 75%
of BCA companies have a plan or strategy regarding employing people with a disability, most (60%)
include it in their overall diversity strategy. One-third of BCA companies actively seek to
employ people with disability. Companies with large workforces (over 20,000
people) are more likely to actively seek applicants with disability and have a dedicated role
in Human Resources. Companies that have a major retail presence,
such as a shop front, are more likely to actively seek to employ people with disability. 93% of companies surveyed have a strategy
to recognise and support mental health issues in the workplace. The first thing is to have a targeted recruitment
strategy. The second is to have partners, you absolutely need partners. The third is
to make sure that there is a business case and of course recruiting people with a disability
fits in with the business you’re actually running. And finally to make sure that managers
are incentivised and encouraged to hire people with a disability but also that they make
sure that the environment is conducive to that person being able to fulfill their purpose,
their contribution and make the most meaningful contribution that they can. At Telstra we strongly believe that diversity
improves our outcomes. We have a greater access to people with talent, we have greater innovation,
we have greater employee engagement and all of these things relate to better performance. I think some of the main barriers when it
comes to people gaining employment who have a disability is people’s naivety of what the
person’s ability is to do that job. So if I think about an interview I went for, one
of the questions raised was how is she actually going to do her job. They didn’t worry about
the fact that I’d got through university, did honors, got first class honors in my thesis.
It’s all about people not understanding or scared to ask the question. All you have to ask is ‘what do you need to
bring your best self to work everyday?’ and if we could ask that of every single employee
who works for us just imagine the innovation and the problem solving and the positively
that they’d walk into work with everyday because they feel that their individual needs are
being met. Rachel supports our corporate services team
here at our head office. We’ve got quite a big office, with about 300 staff here and
Rachel actually helps us keep our 11 kitchens and staff break rooms running smoothly. So
she looks after things from stocking our milk and our fruit deliveries and just basically
keeping our kitchens tidy and neat and she does other tasks to support the corporate
service team generally. We’ve always had a strong focus on making sure that the diversity
of our workforces reflect the diversity within the community. So providing employment for
people with a disability is a huge part of that. Through the Stepping Into Internship that
I was given at PwC I’ve been offered a graduate position and I’m really excited to be starting
that at the end of this year. It has really changed my outcomes and given me an opportunity
that I really plan to take full grasp of in the years ahead. It was a wonderful experience. Personally
I’ve had two interns in my team focusing on projects that complimented their skills. I
think that there’s impact for not just the intern but for the company as well. I think that the workforce tends to focus
on a small picture of what they want in a candidate, and I think
that people with disabilities have so much to bring to the workforce. Well obviously we have to remove the barriers,
be they physical barriers, be they job design barriers. We have to create an environment
where people with a disability feel that they can access a range of opportunities across
the economy and that’s about eliminating barriers. Westpac has had a really phenomenal opportunity
over the last two years to influence accessibility into the design of our property spaces and
the way we create our work spaces where people work everyday. Every level in our new buildings, all the
kitchens are laid out the same, so glasses are in the same spot, there are both above
cupboards and below cupboards so that people in a wheelchair, of short stature, are able
to reach them. Well the benefits to business, I think, are
many fold. What businesses across Australian want is diverse talent and if we’re taking
out one in five Australians and we’re not providing one in five Australians with a job
opportunity, we are not tapping in to the best people in this country. I would absolutely encourage other organisations
to take on staff who have a disability. Not only is it rewarding to give back to the community
in that sense but they’re amazing employees who are really valued members of our team. I’d absolutely do it again. it was a rewarding
experience, it was a fantastic experience not only for me as their manager but to actually
have a diversity of thought in the team. What I would say to companies that haven’t
thought about accessibility, give it a go, it’s really not that hard. I feel like my experience with a disability
has caused me to reflect on what’s really important in life, and bringing that to a
business case has caused me to feel like I have an ethical approach to business that
some people might not have. Be beautiful in yourself and you can do it
and go out there, and have a job, don’t forget, have a job it’s really important.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

1 Comment

  1. how do i get job there?? i am poor and disability in talking… please help me,, I am from Nepal and want to live my life having job over there please help me…… i am crying and begging

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