Conditions for a successful integration
Before a company is able to offer training or working positions to people with disabilities, certain conditions must be fulfilled in the working place in order for integration to succeed.
Generally speaking, most companies do not provide enough jobs and training positions for people with disabilities. This may be explained by a number of different reasons, but the fear of not making any economical profit is often the main reason explaining the companies’ passivity in this regard. Of course, the advantages are not always visible at first glance. However, once the conditions have been established, nothing stands in the way of a successful integration.
The following aspects are to be considered:
Accessibility: For companies to be able to benefit from the abilities and capacities of people with disabilities, the working place and work environment must be designed in such a way that they are accessible for all. Accessibility means that any employee or trainee with reduced abilities can work in an independent, autonomous way and without external help, as much as this is possible. As soon as a working place is freed of insurmountable hurdles, qualified applicants may take on an open position. Take note that in some countries, invalidity insurances can provide some financial assistance for adapting the working place and making it accessible for all.
Corporate and communication culture: The corporate culture is an essential aspect of the implementation of the diversity approach. Whoever shows genuine interest, attention, friendliness, respect and a willingness to cooperate towards people with disabilities, will benefit from the numerous advantages these have to offer. Not only is a work environment that promotes an open communication culture and knows to appreciate and acknowledge the work performed the best motivator for all, but it also allows the employees to communicate preferences and suggestions for improvement in an open manner. A corporate culture that recognises and acknowledges the competences and potential of people with disabilities, instead of focussing on their deficits, exerts a decisive influence on a successful integration.
Equal opportunities: In order to benefit from the advantages of diversity within a company, all employees must be treated equally; this however does not mean identically. Especially from the diversity point of view, employees may differ greatly from one another. This “otherness” needs to be valued and given recognition to: a corporate philosophy needs to be established, that sees in the “otherness” a chance to acknowledge the characteristics and qualities that are associated with it.
The principles of non-discrimination must be applied at all levels of a company; such an attitude is also beneficial to a healthy curiosity towards otherness and diversity. People with disabilities should not be disadvantaged towards their colleagues, but should also not be favoured. Social harmony with a company can only be achieved when no group benefits from advantages over another group.
Working arrangements: Flexible working-time arrangements are beneficial to employees or trainees with disabilities. Indeed, in order to benefit from the approach to diversity, companies should allow their employees working arrangements that are as flexible as possible. In order to avoid discrimination and a negative work environment, flexible arrangements should be possible for all employees, and not only to those with disabilities.
Staff recruitment: Staff recruitment is a central aspect of the diversity management philosophy. In order to achieve diversity, staff recruitment must be performed on the basis of objective criteria such as training, qualifications or work experience. Many employers still have prejudices towards employing people with disabilities. When recruiting, they often give too much importance to their own values, and let themselves be guided by their sympathy for people who are similar to themselves. Unconsciously, the way people are or dress may exert an influence on the recruiter. Applicants, who because of certain particularities do not correspond to the majority, are often excluded from the recruiting process at an early stage. For companies who apply the approach to diversity, however, it is exactly such people who are very important.
Human resources policies are the foundation of a successful integration of employees and trainees with disabilities. A consistent implementation of the diversity management approach is the condition for a successful integration of trainees and employees with disabilities, as well as for the achievement of economical profit for a company.
Text: Simon Müller / Patrick Gunti 09/2014
Translation: MyH – 01/2015