PWDs Inclusion | Why it’s a good business decision
Have you come to ask why more workplaces have started to bring Persons with Disability into its workforce? Yes, simply because PWD inclusivity means achieving multiple bottom lines as a result of enhanced efficiency and improved productivity.
To bring a PWD into the workforce is not all about profit, but mind you, it is good business sense. This is illustrated by Project Inclusion having attained growing acceptability by employers who have shared the benefits of having PWDs in the workplace.
In 2013, Unilab Foundation developed Project Inclusion as a program to create workplaces that are PWD inclusive. Four years down the road, the project did not only attain heightened inclusivity, but has started to reshape the narrative of the country’s employment landscape.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), one in seven persons, or approximately 15 percent of the world’s population, has a disability. The demographic could not be treated in passing notice considering that it is over 1 billion people and which includes the Philippines.
In a video testimonial for the ILO, Yves Veulliet, IBM’s Global Disability & Inclusion Program Manager encouraged to think about ‘ability first.’ Meaning, look at the person’s skills and talents, and not their disability.
‘Ability first’ was at the core of Project Inclusion’s mission. Its program implementation took the first step of connecting into the employment pipeline one of the richest, yet untapped and under-utilized (if not under-recognized), human resource – the Persons with Disabilities.
The project broadened the employment engagement of PWDs in the Philippines which created 508 work opportunities among different types of PWDs proving improved access for work among persons within the sector.
‘Ability first’ has likewise allowed employers to tap at the vast wellspring of skills and expertise that only PWDs can provide.
“As the economy is getting better,” emphasized Veulliet, “the war for talents intensifies.” People with disabilities can be described in three words – “talent, talent, and talent.”
“They are people who have the training, education, and experience to offer,” stressed Veulliet.
Learnings by Citihub
Project Inclusion has established collaboration with 22 different employers from various fields through the years. It indicated steady growth of partner employers who realized the plus factor brought about by making their workplaces PWD inclusive.
The experience by two of Project Inclusion’s partners – Citihub and Southstar Drug, illustrate why it is a good business sense to acquire PWDs and integrate them to work together with its abled workforce.
Citihub, a social enterprise that provides affordable housing and living spaces for low-income workers in Metro Manila employed the deaf among its housekeeping staff.
Conventional employers may think that hiring PWDs will result to low efficiency, because it will entail a lot of adjustments. The experience of Citihub, however, revealed the contrary. It proved the claim unfounded.
“I would say that PWDs value their work more than regular abled-person for they’re always on time for work; they’re never late. They appreciate work and they are efficient,” shared Panya Boonsirithum, CEO of the company.
In addition, the Citihub also attained improved environment. “Our dorms have also become better as a result of constant interaction between our tenants the PWD workers. Our tenants expressed appreciation of them by recognizing their work ethic, like they put trash properly on trash cans, and they don’t loiter around,” expounded Boonsirithum.
Citihub dorms have a capacity of 400 and with three PWD deaf to cover its housekeeping work yet PWDs somehow transformed enduring negative attitudes by individual tenants making them better.
Citihub observed that its tenants have become more patient and understanding with each other. They also have reduced dependency for help and assistance, especially on negligible work, owing perhaps to the clean and orderly culture cultivated by PWDs to the workplace.
The benefits derived by Southstar
Southstar Drug, a drugstore subsidiary of Robinsons Retail accounted 25 PWDs in their workforce and they have derived benefits from its inclusion effort since it started its engagement with Project Inclusion in 2016.
The company has allowed PWDs to handle a variety of job positions, ranging from front line services dealing with the public or administrative and clerical work at the office.
Its interactions have gathered positive outcome and yielded results that even exceeded expectations in spite of the fact that it hired persons with Down syndrome.
Christine Pambuan, the training manager of the drugstore with nearly 500 branches nationwide shared that having persons with Down syndrome in the workplace have put its business on the advantage.
“Our customers come to the store because they are either sick or members of their family have illness that requires medication. They don’t come to us to shop. So, we are aware that most of them are not on upbeat mood and some are even really problematic to say the least. Yet persons with Down syndrome could handle them well,” said Pambuan
“Persons with Down syndrome are, by nature, sweet, accommodating and sympathetic, and having them at the workplace attracted customers,” added Pambuan.
The Southstar management also recounted that having PWDs have allowed them to accomplish long pending work like filing and clerical tasks, because PWDs are focused workers.
“They are results oriented; hence, they are truly efficient,” said the management.
Good matching is key
The success attained by Citihub and Southstar Drug, however, did not came from a random decision. The key to success is determined by good matching between work and skills set.
Southstar Drug affirmed that good matching of work and skills have resulted to the reduction of turnaround time for many of its tasks.
Christine Pambuan again shared that the result of good matching for them was extraordinary. “Tasks that would normally take a month for us to complete were quickly accomplished by PWDs and with fewer errors.”
Having PWDs means enhanced effectiveness for Southstar Drug, because operationally, it meant reduced downtime.
Pambuan also noted that PWDs possess a conscientious character, “as an employer, you are confident having PWDs because they are honest workers.”
For Citihub’s Panya Boonsirithum, “good job matching will allow PWDs to perform way better than abled-individuals.”
Certainly, the accomplishments attained by Citihub and Southstar Drug on PWD inclusion into the workplace have allowed the two companies to think strategically on how to go beyond the present effort.
The companies have explored plans on how to step up advocacy work. They have also started to examine what career development programs are needed integration into the system to enable PWDs to develop other important skills and allow them to blossom to other fields of expertise.
In 2017, Southstar Drug embarked on an aggressive expansion to reach its 475 branches across the archipelago. For 2018, it intends to sustain its effort as it aims to influence its sister companies to adopt inclusion of PWDs in the workplace.
Citihub and Southstar Drug demonstrated that PWDs can have gainful access to the workplace as a result of interventions like Project Inclusion of the Unilab Foundation.
The narrative of exclusion is gradually transforming for inclusion have started PWDs to become least dependent to charity. Project Inclusion has helped the sector to build the necessary capacity as an enabling step for PWDs to start entering into the mainstream of the country’s labor sector and eventually inclusion in society. IMT