Training for Dow employees – working with people with disabilities

Portrait Konstantin Voswinkel
Konstantin Voswinkel gave a training to the Dow employees, one day before the application workshops. (Photo: Konstantin Voswinkel)

Senior staff and employees of the Dow Europe concern took part in a training given by Konstantin Voswinkel. Working with people with disabilities was the theme of this training.

On 29th February 2012, Dow Europe (Switzerland) hosted a training for its employees, in preparation for the application workshop intended for students with disabilities, which was to take place on the following day. In this introduction training, senior staff, who were going to lead personal coaching sessions with the applicants, as well as staff from the human resource department and other interested Dow employees were able to learn about this theme, or extend their knowledge.      

How to break the fear of contact

Konstantin Voswinkel, expert for accessible travel and himself affected by a similar situation, directed the workshop and was able to answer all questions which most people usually do not dare asking. All in all, 30 employees from Dow Europe as well as representatives from MyHandicap took part in the training.

The goal of this training consisted in teaching participants about breaking the fear of contact towards people with disabilities, learning about basic rules of conduct and becoming familiar with particular aspects of how to lead an interview, as well as holding a plenary session for open discussion. The training focused among others on the adequate approach towards people with disabilities, and how to offer help or concrete advice in regards to specific types of disabilities.  

Participants discuss together
Course participants learnt more about working with people with disabilities. (Photo: Dow Europe)

Practical exercises for participants

The workshop focused on the contact with people in wheelchair, with mobility restrictions or with hearing or visual impairment; these aspects were discussed and put to practice by the participants. Furthermore, some of the themes referred specifically to application interviews, such as, for example, what an applicant with disabilities needs to know when applying for Dow Europe, and if there are any differences for an applicant with no disability.    

At the end of the training, Konstantin Voswinkel was very impressed with the participants: “This was one of the best workshops I gave. The Dow employees are very open to the theme of disabilities, and there were a lot of very interesting discussions.”

Sylvie Scherrer, HR representative at Dow, was also very pleased with the training: “Taking part in the Disability Etiquette workshop, given by Konstantin Voswinkel, was a unique and very valuable experience. All questions, which many of us had wanted to ask but had never dared to, were asked and discussed openly. Konstantin’s humorous and direct approach made it easy to address sensitive issues. His many tips and pieces of advice proved to be useful in helping us to a natural and more relaxed contact with people with disabilities.”

Successful implementation of acquired measures

On the following day, the participants were able to put to practice what they had learnt during the workshop. The students who took part in the application workshop gave very good feedbacks. In particular, the correct and thoughtful approach in regards to their disability proved to be the main achievement of the workshop.

About Konstantin Voswinkel

Konstantin Voswinkel completed a business degree from Denver University, majoring in hotel, restaurant and tourism management. He then took on management positions in one of the internationally leading hotel chains in the US as well as in some concerns from the tourism industry.      

Since 2007, Konstantin Voswinkel is director and founder of the consulting firm Disabled Travel Consultants, based in Düsseldorf. He is also, since 2006, expert for accessible travel as well as voluntary ambassador. Voswinkel suffers since his birth from spastic diplegia.  

Text: Konstantin Voswinkel/Dow Europe - 05/2012

Photos: Konstantin Voswinkel, Dow Europe