Companies in Myanmar are encouraged to employ and support disability in the workforce as a guidebook is released on how employers can advance disability inclusion.
Yangon-based Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) and Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AARJ) launched a guidebook for employers in Myanmar on hiring disabled employees.
“Employing Persons with Disabilities – A Handbook for Employers in Myanmar” aims to give practical advice for organisations in the country on how to create accessible employment opportunities and increase recruitment and job retention for the disabled.
The publication was launched yesterday in the capital city at the ceremony to mark this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities whose theme is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.
The 2018 theme focuses on the empowering disabled people for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Myanmar has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2011, which reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. According to the 2014 census, the country has 2.3 million people with disabilities.
AARJ, an international NGO, has been running a Vocational Training Center (VTC) for persons with disabilities for 18 years, since 2000. Yoshio Nakagawa, AARJ’s Yangon representative, argued that disabled people need to build their confidence and skills and the VTC plays a role in this.
“When companies and other organisations create a culture of inclusion, and champion equal access, this is of mutual benefit. We would like to encourage all employers to embrace diversity and the different types of talent pool,” Mr Nakagawa commented, urging businesses to take active steps to start employing the disabled or increase the number they employ.
Vicky Bowman, MCRB director, stressed that disabled people are still not able to participate equally in the workplace. “This is not only bad for them; it’s a lost opportunity for business. If companies embrace disability inclusion, they gain access to a new talent pool and more customers,” she said.
A report published this year by Accenture in the US “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage” shows that the most disability-inclusive firms have 28 percent higher revenue; double the net income; 30pc higher economic profit margins and twice the likelihood of financially outperforming their peers over a period of four years. The findings reinforce the business case for advancing disability inclusion in employment - it means more motivated staff, better employee retention, a wider pool of talent as well as customers, and a stronger brand for the companies.
MCRB’s experience is that businesses in Myanmar want to become more “disability confident” but many do not know where to start, according to Ms Bowman. In this regard, the handbook will come in handy for those companies as it offers practical advice, addressing common questions such as how to successfully recruit and retain disabled employees, what necessary adjustments and modifications may be needed and where to seek further advice.
The handbook covers demographic information about disabled people in the country, examples of discrimination in the workplace, Myanmar’s legal framework protecting them and promoting their participation in society, and advice for employers.
December 3 was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Marking the day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the headquarters in New York that more than 1 billion people in the world live with some form of disability and that their concerns need to be addressed.
“In many societies, persons with disabilities often end up disconnected, living in isolation and facing discrimi-nation. In its pledge to leave no one behind, the 2030 Agenda for Susta-inable Development represents a commitment to reducing inequality and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including people with disabilities.
“That means implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in all contexts and in all countries. It also means integrating the voices and concerns of peoplewith disabilities into national agendas and policies,” the UN chief remarked.