Project Inclusion: Advocating equal employment opportunity
“When we give equal opportunity to all types of employees—men or women, with or without disability—we reap rewards."
In celebration of International Women’s month, the People Management Association of the Philippines held its 634th General Membership Meeting titled “Courageous Leadership: Unleashing Women Power in the Workplace”. The gathering discussed gender equality, overcoming fear and barriers in the workplace, and the competitive advantage of hiring women.
Part of the program was a talk from Project Inclusion, which addressed a different angle on equal employment—that of Persons with Disability.
Project Inclusion is Unilab Foundation’s program for enabling access to work opportunity for Persons with Disability.
Angela Santiago, Program Officer for Project Inclusion, shared the stories of two young women. Mindy Kilkenny, who has autism, was hired as a Pharmacy Assistant at Southstar Drug, while Joana Canuto is a Deaf IT Staff working at Abenson. Both faced challenges while seeking employment, but through proper preparation and with the right support from their employers, they are now thriving in the workplace.
“When we give equal opportunity to all types of employees—men or women, with or without disability—we reap rewards,” said Santiago.
Santiago explained that employing Persons with Disability is a win-win-win situation for all. Employment helps Persons with Disability by improving their adaptive functioning, and facilitating their transition to adult life. In turn, by working with Persons with Disability, their colleagues become better people managers, and their teams from stronger bonds.
“Managing a Person with Disability employee teaches us to give instructions clearly, to give feedback regularly, to train patiently, and to motivate effectively,” Santiago said as she shared stories from Joana’s supervisors.
Ultimately, an inclusive workplace is also good for the business. “When you hire Persons with Disability, you capture a market segment that includes not only the Person with Disability but their family, friends, and relatives.” According to Global Disability Inclusion, a consulting firm offering disability inclusion strategies and solutions to Global 500 companies, the disability sector is a 1 trillion dollar global market opportunity.
Santiago challenged and invited people managers and HR professionals to help their respective companies open their doors to Persons with Disability, by reaching out to their employees, sharing the vision with their leaders, and partnering with Project Inclusion.
“We create equal opportunities for employment when we replace the barriers in our organizations with open doors. When we choose to look past the disability and see people with abilities. And when we build workplaces where everyone can be successful,” ends Santiago.
Since 2013, Project Inclusion has provided more than access to work opportunities to over 600 Persons with Disability. The program has worked with over 75 organizations, including 25 employers who are now disability-inclusive. To learn more about Project Inclusion and how employers can broaden their horizons, visit unilabfoundation.org, or email projectinclusion (at) unilabfoundation.org