On January 20, Disability Hub Europe (DHub), a European initiative led by Fundación ONCE and co-funded by the European Social Fund, promoted the webinar “Hiring people with disabilities: challenges and good practices”.
Hosted by Fundación ONCE together with Dow, one of DHub main partners, the webinar counted with the participation of reference actors including ILO, the European Disability Forum, Inserta Empleo and companies such as Repsol, Ilunion TyA and AfB social & Green IT. The session counted with 175 attendees from around 34 different countries of the world. Live captioning and sign language interpretation were provided to make the session accessible for everyone.
The webinar was an opportunity to identify the main reasons why difficulties are encountered in the selection and hiring of persons with disabilities. Also, it was showed how COVID-19 has increased and will increase these challenges. Moreover, speakers presented actions and good practices that can help organizations to address these difficulties.
The session was divided into two main sections: “Difficulties and good practices for the selection and hiring process of persons with disabilities” and “Promoting the labour inclusion of people with disabilities”.
Maria Tussy, Director of European Programmes Unit at Fundación ONCE, opened the session together with Maria Trigo, Disability Employee Network Leader at Dow. Fundación ONCE highlighted the value of the European Social Fund, as a fundamental tool to promote social and labour inclusion in the EU and valued the inclusive approach of companies such as Dow. On its side, Dow underlined its commitment towards the inclusion of people with disabilities and mentioned the positive impact of the work done in the framework of Disability Hub Europe (DHub) initiative. They were followed by Carla Bonino, CSR and Sustainability Head of Unit at Fundación ONCE and Disability Hub Europe Coordinator, who presented DHub, as a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at working on the binomial Disability & Sustainability.
Further, Haydn Hammersley, Social Policy Officer at the European Disability Forum, approached the current situation of labour inclusion of persons with disabilities. He stated that the unemployment rate of persons with disabilities remains disproportionately high compared to that of persons without disabilities due to barriers they face in the labour market. He mentions that hopefully the upcoming Disability Rights Agenda at the UE will take into account these issues.
The section, “Difficulties and good practices for the selection and hiring process of persons with disabilities”, had the interventions of Marco Ten Bruggencate, Commercial Vice President Packaging & Specialty Plastics EMEA at Dow; Alba Jiménez, Selection Consultant at Repsol; Christoph Teusch, Corporate Responsibility Manager at AfB Social & Green IT and Patricia Otero Martín, Director at ILUNION TyA.
The panellists shared good practices regarding their experiences in the hiring of people with disabilities, such as how a company can be attractive for people with disabilities, where to find candidates or how companies can contribute to people with disabilities getting the required profiles.
As the co-organizer of this event, the representative of Dow shared its strategic approach to inclusion developed especially in the last three years. “What we wanted to achieve when we started our inclusion journey is an inclusive revolution and this goes beyond talk” in Mr. Ten Bruggencate’s words. The company Disability Employee Network was also presented as an important enabler, with four pillars: hire and retain diverse-abled workforce, accessibility and accommodation, mental health and engaging with external partners.
The following session focused on “Promoting the labour inclusion of people with disabilities” which counted with Sabina Lobato, Training, Employment, Operations and Transformation Director at Fundación ONCE and General Director at Inserta Empleo, and Stefan Trömel, Senior Disability Specialist at ILO and Coordinator of the ILO Global Business and Disability Network (GBDN). As experts in the field, both speakers gave their insights on the hiring of people with disabilities. Some of their contributions were, that in order to achieve disability inclusion it is essential to gain commitment at the high-level management of a company; to partner with expert organizations along the way on a long term basis; and to strengthen actions aimed at improving the access to the skills demanded in the labour market, such as digital skills.
The closing remarks, made by Antonia Jenney, Senior Sales Director Packaging & Specialty Plastics South EU at Dow, highlighted some of the important messages shared by speakers such as the relevance of working on an inclusive labour market for people with disabilities and for the society as a whole.