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Inclusivity of People with Disabilities in the Workplace

Believe it or not, “inclusivity” is not just a buzzword.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, inclusivity means “the fact of including all types of people, things or ideas and treating them all fairly and equally.”

As Southeast Asia is a region blessed with diversity, being inclusive is the key to harmonious collaboration, especially in the workplace!

Inclusivity Vs. Diversity

Being diverse does not equal being inclusive.

An employer can create a diverse workplace by simply recruiting workers from various backgrounds, but it does not necessarily guarantee an inclusive workplace.

In an inclusive workplace, workers are respected and encouraged with their differences—no matter the gender, religion, age, or disability.

Employment of People With Disabilities

Inclusivity will not be achieved without the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the employment world.

According to WHO, about 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. There could be as many as 100 million people with disabilities in ASEAN, according to Seree Nonthasoot, Thailand’s representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights.

Despite being a large part of the population, Analysis of the World Health Survey results for 51 countries gives employment rates of 52.8% for men with disability and 19.6% for women with disability, compared with 64.9% for non-disabled men and 29.9% for non-disabled women.

How come are the employment rates so low?

In 2011, WHO released World Report on Disability. This report shines a light on many aspects of people with disabilities, including employment.

According to the report, there are barriers that make employment difficult for people with disabilities.

  1. Lack of access

People with disabilities often lack access to education, therefore creating a gap between those with a disability and those without.

The lack of access to transportation modes that are disability-friendly hardens physical access to employment.  There may also be physical barriers to job interviews, to the actual work setting. 

  1. Misconceptions about disability

There is a prejudice that people with disabilities are less productive than their counterparts. Unfortunately, this misconception exists not only among non-disabled employers but also among family members and people with disabilities themselves.

Some people with disabilities look down on their ability to be employed and may not even try to find employment.

  1. Discrimination

Due to misconceptions about the capabilities of people with disabilities, employers may discriminate against them.

In some cases, employers might even despise the idea to include people with disabilities in their workforce.

  1. Overprotection in labor laws

Several countries mandate shorter working days, more rest periods, longer paid leave, and higher pay for disabled workers, irrespective of their needs.

While these regulations are made with the best intentions, in some cases they lead employers to see workers with disabilities are less productive and more costly, therefore making them less desirable to employ.

How to improve this condition?

To address the inequality regarding the employment of people with disabilities, the Report recommends several actions for different key actors: Governments, Employers, and NGOs (including disabled people’s organizations, microfinance institutions, and trade unions.)

“So, what can an ordinary person like me do to help?” you might ask.

One thing you can do is to join #BridgetheGap! Workshop on Disability-Inclusive Workplace and Environment for Persons with Disabilities!

It is a collaborative program between the ASEAN Youth Organization (AYO) along with ASEAN General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA).

This workshop aims to highlight the unfulfilled needs of persons with disabilities in the workplace and demand private sectors and the government to put more effort into providing disability-friendly work facilities and environments.

What are you waiting for? REGISTER NOW and be the changemakers for inclusivity!

At the end of the workshop, the participants will be asked to fulfill the feedback form. The best 5 participants based on the answers given will get FREE PASS for the ASEAN Youth Conference (AYC) Cambodia 2022!

Written by: Carissa Nuryasmin Putri

Born and raised in Indonesia, Carissa is an undergraduate student of Industrial Product Design. They love working in a multicultural environment with colleagues who live all across the globe.

Headshot photo of the author, Carissa