10 December 2019
Under the Make 12.4% Work Initiative, we have observed reluctance from companies to embrace disability inclusion. Considering the profit-driven environments in companies; misconceptions about the costs involved in employing persons with disabilities, negative stereotypes perpetuated regarding their productivity at work and lack of technical expertise or support on how to accommodate the specific needs of employees with disabilities can be assumed to be the major contributors to the fact.
On the 30th of May, Federation of Ugandan Employers (FUE) together with the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) organized a CEO Summit under the umbrella of the Make 12.4% Work Initiative. In this meeting the establishment of a Uganda Business and Disability Network, in line with the ILO Global Business and Disability Network, was formally discussed with CEOs of major national and multinational companies in attendance.
A lot of momentum has since been built in support of the establishment of the UBDN with some of the largest companies in the country (such as the Uganda Breweries Limited and Coca-Cola) in the lead and committing as founding members. What had previously seemed like an impossible target is in reach. So what about the UBDN seems to draw out companies?
Usually, higher management of national and multinational companies are difficult to get an audience with through ordinary channels – this can be attested by the Disability Inclusion Facilitators who often meet lower ranking staff such as the receptionists and administrators during their relationship building activities. Efforts to reach higher ranking staff end up futile in many cases.
The UBDN negates all these processes, providing a direct link to higher management or individuals in decision-making positions of these companies. Garnering commitment from higher management guarantees action from the rest of the staff.
Having some of the biggest names in the for-profit sector in Uganda commit to disability inclusion through the UBDN is a great push factor for other companies to also come on board as the UBDN presents an opportunity for these companies to establish working relationships to support their other business interests.
For certain multinational companies such as Vivo Energy, Standard Chartered Bank and Coca-Cola, commitment to disability inclusion from the global offices has pushed the national offices in Uganda to comply and seek out technical support which will be provided through the UBDN.
The Make 12.4% Work Initiative will provide technical support to the UBDN through the network of Disability Inclusion Facilitators and work closely with the UBDN in developing joint products and tools to support and guide employers on how to create an inclusive workplace, coordinate work placement opportunities for persons with disabilities and feed policy development and implementation by sharing experiences through policy briefs and case stories.
The UBDN is set to launch on the 3rd of December 2019, both in commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and to see to it that disability inclusion as a business case in Uganda takes precedence for years to come.
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