how to contribute and support market share – WAU
Contributing to the inclusion of people with disabilities goes far beyond complying with legislation. Support for their struggle must combine knowledge of the cause, empathy with demands and a predisposition to transform reality.
When I started to develop the diversity and inclusion initiatives Websites Are Us, in August 2018, one of the main challenges that I expected was to know more about the universe of disabled people.
Despite having had contact with PCDs (and their different demands) at some points in my life, I had never developed any specific type of action for this audience.
Over the past few months, I have come closer to the reality of these people. Together with our People team, I was discovering and adapting to some peculiarities of this universe.
Now, ahead of the team responsible for these initiatives, some learning is being consolidated and put into practice.
In this text, I’ll list some of the things that, in a way, have helped me think of ways to support the inclusion of people with disabilities to go beyond numbers. I do not guarantee that reading will bring all the answers you may be looking for, but I hope, at least, that it will contribute by bringing a new vision on the topic. Come on?
Who fits today as a person with a disability
People with disabilities (or PCDs) are those who have some kind of permanent limitation or that has no cure. They can come from birth or be acquired throughout life, due to a disease or accidents, for example.
At limitations PCDs can be physical, mental, intellectual or sensory, and demand that they adapt to their situation and the barriers that usually come their way.
In general, they inhibit people from competing on an equal footing with others, making it difficult or even impossible for them to complete their participation in society.
According to IBGE data, London today has approximately 45 million people with some type of disability (about 23.9% of the population). Of these, 27 million are old enough to work formally in the labor market.
Several advances have already been achieved by this portion of the population, but the reality shows us that there is still a long way to go.
The legal aspect and the reality of people with disabilities
Today, there are some legal reservations in London that guarantee the inclusion of people with disabilities in the labor market.
One of the main ones is the Law 8213, of July 1991 (popularly known as the Quota Law), which establishes the reservation of vacancies for hiring people with disabilities.
This rule applies to companies with more than 100 employees, and requires the allocation of a percentage of employees according to the size of the company:
- 2% of the staff in companies with up to 200 employees;
- 3% of the staff in companies with 201 to 500 employees;
- 4% of the staff in companies with 501 to 1000 employees;
- 5% of the staff in companies with more than 1000 employees.
In addition to this, there is also the Status of People with Disabilities, instituted by Law 13,146, of July 2015, which ensures social inclusion and promotes responsibility for ensuring a level playing field for PCDs.
It determines responsibilities such as ensuring equality, non-discrimination, priority care and access to basic rights, such as health, housing, education, work, accessibility, among others.
However, the reality of what happens on a daily basis is far from an ideal scenario. Data from the Ministry of Labor indicate that less than 1% of formal job vacancies in the country are occupied by PCDs.
Part of this is because companies still attribute the difficulty of hiring to obstacles such as the lack of accessibility, the lack of preparation of managers and the low qualification of PCDs.
In addition, the focus on compliance with the quota ends up being another obstacle. The filling of vacancies ends up being guided more by the need to reach the number than by quality or qualification. This leads to poor quality throughout the hiring process and the inclusion of people in the company’s routine.
However, most of these barriers can be resolved with simple investments.
As we started to pay more attention to the diversity initiatives here at WAU, for example, we realized that focusing on law enforcement alone was not enough to guarantee inclusion. The presence of PCDs in any environment does not guarantee that they are, in fact, integrated with them.
Supporting the struggle and understanding the demands is important for us to be able to take advantage of the potential that these people have to offer. And, therefore, we have endeavored to address this issue through a different perspective.
How to contribute to a more inclusive market for PCDs
The first step for inclusion to really happen is to understand that it must be everyone’s responsibility.
And that understanding can take place in three simple steps, which we can all perform in our routines, regardless of our role in the organization to which we belong.
We’ll talk about them below, but it’s worth noting that they don’t have to be a sequential script – that is, actions can happen simultaneously.
Step 1: recognize that diversity and inclusion are topics to be addressed
The various social barriers that PCDs encounter are hampering their access to job opportunities and, often, formal education.
As a result, many of us grew up with little or no close contact with people with disabilities in our study and work environments. Due to this distance, this discussion ends up not being something so present in our routine.
It is necessary to understand, first of all, that we need to treat inclusion as an agenda in our daily business. And it is not just a matter of taking the discussion to the merit of not being prejudiced, but preparing to deal with an eventual situation in which living with PCDs is necessary.
A good way to start thinking about it is to treat the idea of inclusion with an immediacy bias.
Have you ever stopped to think about how you would adapt your work routine to include a PCD, or how you would treat it when you arrived at your team? Realizing that, as individuals, we do not have the necessary preparation is the first step to start promoting this change.
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Step 2: learn to live and respect human possibilities
Several factors (such as education, family, culture, religion, experiences we go through, and others) directly influence the way we see the world and make our decisions.
Regardless of what aspect is addressed, when talking about diversity, the key word of the conversation is respect for differences.
To maintain a healthy level in human relationships, it is not necessary to understand or agree with everything. The human possibilities are innumerable and we will certainly not be familiar with all of them.
However, some of our unconscious biases cause us to automatically associate deficiencies with negative contexts, and this reduces the expectation we have about PWDs. At the same time, when expectations are low, anything good that is done will naturally be overvalued.
People with disabilities are neither poor nor martyrs.
To avoid these associations, we need to strive to learn to live with difference. And our biggest challenge is precisely to respect what you don’t know or don’t agree with.
We cannot allow ourselves to make judgments, assume premises that make other people inferior and choose not to live with differences. We have to face that yes, the world is diverse. And it is our duty to adapt to that.
Step 3: value differences and take advantage of what they have to teach
As soon as the need for inclusion is recognized and it is possible to structure respectful relationships, it is necessary to start taking advantage of the differences in favor of the company.
Engaging PCDs in processes, conversations and routines is essential for them to bring their vision into our lives. But because it is a very sensitive issue, we tend to avoid it or, when we do it, we always keep a foot behind. And therein lies the problem.
O fear of making mistakes is often the biggest impediment for inclusion to happen. For fear of making a mistake, of sounding offensive or something like that, we ended up creating a new barrier, which generally removes us even more from the efforts necessary to have the contribution and vision of these people. Therefore, we need to feel free to have all kinds of feelings with the PCD.
We must give ourselves the possibility to make mistakes, to learn from them, to feel free to ask what we don’t know.
It is important to naturalize the relationship with the PWDs, as disability is just one more characteristic that the person may or may not have. But be careful to always use common sense and not to exceed the limits of others. Never treat someone with an intimacy that has not been granted to you.
What benefits can the inclusion of PCDs bring to the company
It is not new that it is known that the focus on diversity and inclusion has a direct impact on the results of companies.
And even with the laws that protect people with disabilities, it is very common to observe policies and commitments to combat discrimination against PCDs among the largest companies in the market or those that are among several lists of best companies to work for.
A study carried out in 2014 by the organization Institute for Corporate Productivity, which evaluates the practices of high performance organizations, pointed out that companies in the American market that hire PCDs have higher productivity, less absenteeism and more loyal customers.
The same study shows that, for every four companies, three of them name their employees with disabilities as good or very good in aspects such as quality of delivery, motivation, engagement, integration with colleagues, reliability and service.
Among the several results already perceived, there are several things related to the reduction of turnover and the increase in productivity and engagement. We can even mention the very burden of social responsibility that attention to this cause brings.
But the main benefit that a company can gain from paying more attention is a greater understanding of the demands of a very significant portion of society.
By approaching the cause and supporting PCDs, your company will build a more plural environment and open up opportunities to take full advantage of its people, regardless of their characteristics. Let’s go together?