Why hiring people with disabilities can benefit the Asian workforce
Businesses around the world are facing labor shortages as many people leave their jobs – and Asia is no exception.
A 2021 Mercer survey found that employers in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand saw a higher turnover rate, especially at the mid-career level, compared to previous years.
The big quit isn’t over anytime soon, so how can Asian employers continue to attract and retain talent?
The answer lies in an “under-tapped pool” of talent – people with disabilities, said Joni Simpson of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
People with disabilities include those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, according to the United Nations.
“There are around 472 million people with disabilities of working age in Asia, but nearly two-thirds of them are outside the labor force,” said Simpson, who is a senior gender, equality specialist. and non-discrimination.
According to the latest guide for employers published by the ILO, companies in Asia are struggling to include people with disabilities due to a lack of awareness and prevailing stereotypes.
“Some of the most common assumptions and fears are that people with disabilities are only able to perform routine repetitive work, that they have low productivity and a high accident rate, and that adaptations instead of labor will be costly,” he said.
But Simpson says highly skilled disabled workers are “out there” and “want to find jobs” – and it’s up to companies to step up their diverse hiring practices.
How can hiring people with disabilities benefit the Asian workforce? CNBC Make It finds out.
1. Competitive advantage
Diversity is increasingly important – 76% of employees and job seekers say a diverse workforce is an important factor they consider when evaluating companies and job offers. jobs, according to a Glassdoor survey.
Bernd Starke, Head of Deutsche Bank’s DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) business coverage for Asia-Pacific agreed, saying diversity and inclusion is high on the agenda, especially for the “younger generation of top talent”.
“For successful organizations to attract top talent, it is therefore imperative to have an inclusive hiring culture that embraces people with disabilities.”
Starke is also the head of dbEnable Singapore, which runs a “job placement program” offering student interns with disabilities the opportunity to learn about banking.
Since the launch of the program in 2016, five interns have been hired full-time within the bank.
“Statistically, more than a billion people worldwide have a disability. But it is often forgotten that among this number are countless talented and gifted people who are more than able and willing to support, surpass and even lead. their peers,” Starke added.
The ILO said in its report that by creating a more diverse workforce, companies would gain a “competitive business advantage” when expanding their strategies and practices to include disability – as well as gender differences, of age, race and ethnicity.
Additionally, he reported that companies found that their reputation improved and their profitability increased after doing so.
A 2018 study by Accenture found that companies that actively seek to employ people with disabilities reported higher revenues, net income and profit margins than companies that do not.
Simpson added: “It will also carry over to customers – seeing this business as a diversity aware business…and it may impact their choice to work with them, their choice to buy from them.”
“There is a positive impact both for the company’s internal staff and for customers outside.”
The Big Quit, which has seen mass worker quits during the pandemic, is an indication that loyalty to work may be a thing of the past.
But according to Simpson, job loyalty is still strong among employees with disabilities.
“They’re efficient at their jobs and they also tend to be loyal to their companies. Turnover rates are lower based on the evidence we have.”
In the United States, for example, an analysis by DuPont de Nemours showed that people with disabilities have equal or better performance, better retention rates and less absenteeism.
“Again, it can also be in terms of other elements of diversity. Being appreciated makes you stay.”
The loyalty that a company can cultivate among its staff will also extend to those who do not live with a disability.
“There is a level of satisfaction in working for a company that gets [diversity] – I would say also relevant for other people. When you know your company values you, is ready to support you… you will thrive and perform at your best in the workplace,” Simpson said.
3. Empathy at work
The Great Resignation has also pushed companies to refine their culture to “meet the expectations of professionals to be seen as human first,” LinkedIn said in its 2022 Global Talent Trends report.
One of the ways Asian companies can foster this culture is by recruiting in a diverse and inclusive manner.
“We are all a little more human when we take care of each other. If you have a colleague in a wheelchair, you must be more willing to help and support [him/her]“, said Starke.
“When you talk to them and (find out) it takes them two hours in the morning to get to work…you just start to be a little more empathetic.”
Simpson added that when companies meet the needs of people with disabilities and learn more about them, they also “bring new perspectives to their teams.”
“After all, we’ll all be here [experience disability] at some point in our lives.”
How businesses can start
For Starke and Simpson, building a more diverse workforce starts with business leaders.
“Leaders set the tone. They need to look at their hiring and make sure they don’t indirectly and unknowingly discriminate against potential candidates with disabilities,” Simpson said.
“Management needs to make sure that people…don’t imagine them as people who are only in the job for a quota.”
Starke stressed that as companies move toward hiring a more diverse and inclusive workforce, the end goal should be job opportunities, “not charity.”
“If we employ a person with a disability, it has to be on the basis of that person’s abilities and talents.”