Including people with disabilities is today an obligation for companies with more than 50 workers. However, despite the progress, many of them continue to be unemployed: in 2019, the insertion of people with disabilities in Spain was 25.9%, compared to 66.9% of people without disabilities, according to data from Statistics National Institute. A figure clearly lower than the global data, which speaks of 49% unemployment in a group that includes some one billion people around the world. By type of disability, people with hearing impairments had the highest activity rate (56.8%), while those with intellectual disabilities were at the other extreme (27.8%).
In Spain, the law requires the aforementioned companies a minimum of 2% of employees with disabilities, in order to guarantee that all people who can fulfill the expectations of a job regardless of their gender, race or grade of DISCAPACITY. “Not limiting themselves is already a benefit, because it means that companies will search among all those suitable for the position, and can find the best possible candidate among 100% of the options,” says Eduardo Jáuregui, CEO of Irisbond, a technology startup of Basque origin pioneering assistive technologies. But companies also have access to tax advantages, which include bonuses of between € 4,500 and € 6,300 per year for each worker with a disability with a permanent contract, contributions of up to € 900 to adapt the job and deductions from the full share of corporation tax .
Progress has been made, yes, but much remains to be done. Because, for the labor market to be 100% inclusive, it must also incorporate other groups at risk, such as those over 45 or 55 years old: “26% of job offers, for example, continue to collect from the age criterion explicitly, and in other cases, even without specifying a specific group, they look for young people, when what they really want is a vital and dynamic professional, attributes that are not linked to the year of birth ”, says Francisco Mesonero, general director of the Adecco Foundation.
For Mesonero, in the selection process the stereotype continues to weigh heavily: “There are well-established prejudices in the social imaginary, such as the possible maternity of a person in the 30s or the obsolescence of a professional over 45 years of age, which leads to discard totally valid professionals for a job “. Active employment policies, public-private collaboration (through the associative fabric) and diversity, equity and inclusion strategies are some of the tools that must be strengthened to guarantee access to the labor market for people with some type of disability .
How to advance inclusivity
It should not be forgotten that including people with disabilities has a series of intangible benefits, because “it makes the corporate culture more open and flexible, improves employees’ pride of belonging, increases empathy towards different people, attracts talent and transmits those brand values abroad ”, adds Jáuregui. A change that, to be effective, must be managed from above and with a lot of leadership, training not only those responsible for Human Resources but also covering the entire workforce.
“We have to consider it a transversal and universal issue, holistic and multifaceted, with different faces. The first is that there is a real involvement of senior management and that it is permeable to the entire organization; and, secondly, to analyze the physical accessibility of the work environments themselves, since the problems to be solved will be different according to the type of disability ”, explains Jesús Hernández, director of Universal Accessibility of the ONCE Foundation. “You also have to work on technology, because in many cases the technological tools that a company has are completely inaccessible and generate true exclusion; that the products and services generated by the company are also accessible and that workers receive training ”.
A more inclusive hiring process
The importance of inclusiveness reaches each and every one of the phases of the hiring process, from the way the job offer is designed and published to the personal interview and adaptation to the work environment. “The job offer has to be accessible. Companies have to open our minds and use the tools at our disposal so that people who cannot see or hear can know the position we offer, ”says Ana María González, Microsoft’s customer success manager. “It is not just about filling a job, but about finding talent, and thanks to technology we have it at our fingertips.”
“The key lies in technology with a purpose,” says Lara Moratón, Samsung’s director of accessibility: “It is important that devices and tools are created that make a difference so that jobs are accessible for all types of profiles , for example, through the use of video, and make this a more inclusive process ”. For many experts, the group of people with disabilities, which could represent between 15 and 20% of professional talent, is underutilized, because their contribution “is not limited to their skills, but these workers show a great commitment and responsibility towards their companies ”, adds Jáuregui.
According to the study The State of Diversity Recruting in 2020 and Beyond, Harver’s, racially and ethnically diverse companies are 36% more likely to outperform their competitors, and 83% of executives believe that a diverse workforce improves their organizations’ ability to attract and retain a customer base more diverse. Some conclusions that, for Jáuregui, are also valid with respect to the group of people with disabilities: “Inclusiveness policies have shown excellent results in corporations (…); disability should be part of this same conversation and we see the impact on results equally extrapolated ”.
One of the most important aspects to take into account when preparing an interview lies in familiarizing yourself in advance with the disability of the person to be evaluated, in order to act accordingly: “We must not forget that these people tend to to be more nervous, and it is the role of the interviewer to make them feel safe and with the same possibilities as the rest of the candidates “, explains the Microsoft board of directors. And Hernández adds: “Companies have to avoid physical barriers. To do this, initiatives such as including a sign language translation service or preparing in advance, through a training program, the questions to ask, can make a difference. And, above all, have empathy ”.
A person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have very high capacities in numerical or data processing, for example, but encounter insurmountable difficulties in a face-to-face interview, an obstacle that the company can easily solve by adapting the selection process. and that this is based exclusively on the competencies of the candidates. Setting the date in advance, using inclusive language, setting aside unconscious prejudices and biases, and ensuring the absence of physical barriers when accessing the interview site are others. the recommendations made by the Adecco Foundation so that everything flows in the best possible way.
Adapting to the work environment
To ensure an effective and problem-free incorporation for the disabled person, the company must first ensure the absence of all types of barriers, both architectural and social. “With regard to workers, fear must be reduced so that no one feels threatened. People have to be taught to deal with people who have different needs, ”says Jáuregui. “The fear of not knowing how to treat someone different can become a barrier. Workers have to be part of the change, propose new inclusive dynamics, feel responsible part of the process ”.
As already mentioned, technology plays a fundamental role in guaranteeing an inclusive work environment: “There are converters from sign language to spoken language; With eye tracking, like the one developed by Irisbond, you can give a voice to people with mobility and communication problems; and protocols for interviews adapted to people with ASD can be designed ”, illustrates Jáuregui. But there are many more examples: keyboards adapted to all types of people, speech synthesizers that read what is written, programs to create texts with the voice or translate the texts on the screen into Braille are just a few. For this reason, because technology already exists, the key is to promote social awareness and the change in the business culture necessary for working to be, effectively, a right for all and for all.
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