Digicel wants more for disabled community at the workplaceSunday, October 17, 2021
Creating equal employment opportunities for Jamaicans living with disabilities was the central focus during the recent Digicel Foundation-hosted virtual conversation entitled 'Why is workplace inclusion so important?'.
The robust discussion featured noted businessman and chairman of the Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF), Wayne Chen, and Digicel Foundation CEO Charmaine Daniels.
During his contribution, Chen candidly discussed the state of Jamaica's corporate inclusivity, noting that while some progress has been made among certain segments of the private sector, there remains much work to be done. To this end, he highlighted that most Jamaican businesses still have not installed physical accessibility features or made other concessions to accommodate employees with special needs.
Chen shared, “Accessibility refers to the physical space, jobs and economic opportunities. There is a need for wider support for these measures, but this can only be accomplished by advocating for businesses to engage the disabled community. We need to also show the benefits accomodating this community holds for companies and the country.”
While exploring how technology can be used to help bridge the employment gap, he further noted, “Remote work has opened up new opportunities for the disabled community and that is part of how to address the issue in its newest iteration. The ability to work from your safe space using specialised software solutions presents many options. We need to think about how to translate these developments into real opportunities for our disabled community.”
Discussing Digicel's internal policy of inclusivity and the foundation's external advocacy on behalf of persons with disabilities, Daniels stressed the need for a corporate cultural shift to normalise interacting with and employing people with special needs.
“There is a need for a systematic change at the national level that addresses access to physical structures and gainful employment,” she stated. “Both Digicel and the foundation have team members with special needs who are assets to the organisation and make a significant contribution to our work. Real effort needs to be made across the board to accommodate the needs of types of employees. We invite corporate Jamaica to join us in the fight to make our country a more inclusive society.”
In addition to being an equal opportunity employer, Digicel is a member of the Valuable 500, a business-to-business initiative catalysing the influence of large private sector corporations in national and international markets.
Digicel will continue its recognition of October as Special Needs Awareness Month with a virtual conference themed 'Overcoming Challenges to Workplace Inclusivity' on Tuesday, October 19 at 11:00 am. The event, to be chaired by Terri-Karelle Reid, will feature a high-level panel of stakeholders from Jamaica's special needs community, including Senator Dr Floyd Morris.