Fill Me In
The Enabling Mark is a national-level accreditation that recognises firms with inclusive hiring practices toward people with disabilities (PWD). Launched on Thursday, October 8, the move follows President Halimah Yacob’s call for inclusion and acceptance of disabled persons in the workforce.
“Supporting the employment of people with disabilities should be made part of the national policy on jobs and not just something championed by welfare groups,” said President Halimah. The president commented based on her visit to a social service agency, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS).
Who it helps
Bobby Lee Seng Tong is a trainee at CPAS, who has faced workplace discrimination. The 54-year-old has had cerebral palsy since birth and met two retrenchments, with unclear termination by his previous employers. He was previously assigned to operate CPAS pushcarts at Changi General Hospital, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, he is unable to continue to do so. He is now working at CPAS’ Goodwill, Rehabilitation and Occupational Workshop (GROW) under sheltered employment.
Lee faces trouble finding stable employment due to his condition. Daily commute — a norm and non-struggle for most of us — is one of his biggest hurdles as he has to use crutches and requires space to move around. Increased awareness of special needs will allow employers to have an improved understanding of the challenges people with disabilities face. It also allows employers to adjust their expectations when hiring a disabled person.
Why it matters
The effects of Covid-19 has only enhanced and made the under-representation of people with disabilities in the workforce more obvious. Madam Halimah said: “A national policy on jobs which includes PWD will ensure greater focus and planning, including the kind of infrastructure that is needed to promote their employment instead of subsequent adaptation which is more difficult to do. Also, with technology as the enabler, more work can be done from home or at centres such as CPAS, so there should be more job opportunities accessible to them.”
SG Enable is an agency dedicated to enabling persons with disabilities. The agency mentioned that the accreditation is the “first-of-its-kind”. The certification is said to “incentivise organisations to build a positive corporate image with disability-inclusive hiring, inspire them to adopt the best practices with leading organisations serving as role models, and inform and support them as they improve their inclusive employment practices”.
What the President and Minister Masagos have to say
President Halimah had spoken at the virtual launch of the Enabling Mark and said that employers play a vital role in the effort to empower employees with disabilities. F&B company Seoul Garden Group was cited for having “a strong record of inclusive hiring”, with 10% of employees being people with disabilities. Almost half of the employees have been with the company for five years. Jonathan is an employee who rose the ranks, starting as a kitchen assistant in 2015 to becoming a senior service assistant. He has hearing and speech impairments, but his disabilities did not hinder his potential and opportunity for growth. Following Jonathan’s story, President Halimah said that the support of employers is critical in empowering persons with disabilities to realise their potential.
Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development, said that the government has also kept their eye on vulnerable groups amidst the pandemic, to provide support in accessing jobs and opportunities. SG Enable held a virtual training and career fair last month that aided people with disabilities look for work. More than 150 job vacancies were offered by private, public, and people sectors, Masagos said.
Masagos also mentioned that the sheer number of jobs offered at the fair indicated that companies are willing to hire inclusively despite the economic uncertainties. He also said: “Being an inclusive employer that hires PWDs is not an act of charity, but a good business decision! Besides enabling you to tap on a wider pool of talent, it also signals your organisation’s progressiveness and commitment towards building a more inclusive society in Singapore.”
Hiring practices and how to apply
According to the Ministry of Manpower last year, more than 25% of people aged 15 to 64 who have disabilities are employed. However, more can be done. In the pursuit of a more inclusive workforce, over 140 organisations have signed the President’s Challenge Enabling Employment Pledge since it was launched in March.
The Enabling Mark accreditation has three tiers — Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Recruitment practices and workplace accessibility determine the tier ranking, and the certification lasts for one, two, and three years respectively. The Enabling Mark can be applied for through this website.