Living with disability can greatly impact on that person’s ability to find work and a sustainable career. Often times this is due to a perception by employers that a person living with disability may require extra attention, expensive workplace modifications or the person may not be as productive as other candidates.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, particularly the last point regarding productivity, with persons with disability proven to show as good if not better productivity than their able-bodied colleagues. As for expensive workplace modifications, the majority of persons living with disability do not have obvious disabilities, like being in a wheelchair and potentially requiring access modifications. In any case, there is available government funding for workplaces who do hire someone requiring this, which ultimately benefits your customer clientele living with disability as well.
There is a huge reason though to switch your thinking when considering persons living with disability as an employee for your business. Living with disability can often create a flip side – an extraordinary ability.
General Manager at Australian Spatial Analytics, Geoff Smith actively seeks persons living with autism for data analyst roles, stating “The people we’ve hired are faster and more precise analysts, a lot more diligent than the average ‘Joe’ and really enjoy the job”.
Oliver Hunter, who features in Dylan Alcotts ‘Remove the Barrier’ campaign says it well, “living with a disability means you have to be extraordinary to be ordinary and that is a strength, not something to be patronised for”.
Nate Quinell, an ambassador and client of BUSY Ability, has never let the fact that he is blind and deaf prevent him from following his career passion. A qualified chef who has previously owned his own café and authored a cookbook ‘The Hurricane Chef’, Nate struggled to find work throughout 2019, made all the more harder when Covid-19 hit in early 2020. With support from BUSY Ability he is now working as a chef again and continues to campaign for inclusion and equality in the workforce through his ambassador role for BUSY Ability’s Employ-Ability 100 campaign. Nate performs his role as well as any other chef, just with a few extra pieces of equipment and resources.
With available government funding for potential workplace modifications required and support through NDIS, accommodating persons with disability in a workplace is easily achieved.
In Australia, 1 in 5 persons live with disability, and only 54% of them are employed. Now more than ever we need to change our perceptions and remove the unconscious bias that is preventing a great deal of talented people from contributing in our workplaces.
As for able-bodied young people, finding a career path can often take some trial and error for those living with disability.
When Rachel first came to BUSY Ability after having no success finding work, the team put her forward for ICON Training, a hospitality school situated in the heart of The Kitchens in Robina Town Centre. The training school supports disadvantaged persons to find a career path in hospitality by offering traineeship positions at the training centre. While many of the students graduate and move onto careers in hospitality, not everyone is suited for the hospitality industry and Rachel quickly discovered that she was one of those people.
Luckily, Paul Morffew, Managing Director at ICON, saw Rachel’s potential and offered her an alternative traineeship opportunity in the office as receptionist and administration support. After a short trial, Rachel quickly realized that this was the career direction for her and she has been thriving ever since in the role.
“Rachel was a part of that program and we found she didn’t really have a niche for hospitality so we thought business might be a better option for her. We found a role for her at ICON as receptionist/ business trainee”, Paul Morffew stated.
Inclusivity in the workplace benefits everyone – not only are organisations who reshape their thinking on disability to focusing on the extraordinary abilities instead, they are creating a diverse environment that is good for everyone, business included.
For more information on how BUSY Ability can assist persons with an injury, health condition or disability into work visit www.busyability.org.au or call 1800 761 561