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Education and Employment

New toolkit helps global businesses include people with disabilities in the workplace

Smiley businesswoman in wheelchair

The new ‘disability toolkit’ was launched this week, funded by UK aid-funded Inclusive Futures programme, in response to a growing demand from business leaders who want people with disabilities to be represented in their workforce, but do not know where to start.  

It offers advice for businesses – big and small – to recruit more people with disabilities, ensure workspaces are accessible and support employees with disabilities to achieve their potential.

Experience of working with Unilever, Diageo and Safaricom have contributed to the practical guidelines as well as that of jobseekers, disability rights groups and local businesses in Uganda, Bangladesh, Kenya and Nigeria.

“These unique, practical guides are designed to meet the needs and expectations of business because we have learned that making it easier for employers to say ‘YES’ inevitably makes it easier for job seekers with disabilities to find meaningful employment.” said Susan Scott-Parker, Founder of Business Disability International and co-author of the toolkit.

One billion people are estimated to have a disability around the world, yet employment numbers remain incredibly low across most countries.

The International Labour Organization estimates that as much as 3 to 7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is lost within middle and low-income-countries as people with disabilities are excluded from the job market.

“Employing people with disabilities has clear benefits not only for the people employed, but also for businesses. One estimate suggests that there’s an untapped spending power of $8 trillion waiting for businesses who recognise this.

“But contrary to what people might expect, what we’ve seen is that the financial side has not been the driving force here for these companies – it is the fact they believe hiring inclusively is the right thing to do.” Said Simon Brown, Inclusive Futures’ Global Technical Lead.

“The moral argument has really won, and from a Diageo perspective” says Eric Kiniti, Group Corporate Relationships Director at the East African Breweries Ltd, a subsidiary of Diageo. “This week we’re launching our 2030 targets on sustainability and diversity and inclusion is one of the key metrics that we’re looking at.”

The toolkit was launched on November 24th 2020 at an online event was hosted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and attended by big brands including Coca Cola, Unilever and Safaricom.

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