By Our Reporter
Human Resource managers and practitioners have been urged to create a conducive and more accommodating environment for persons with disabilities (PWDs). The call was made during the Employment Summit held at Golden Tulip Hotel on Thursday, which also coincided with the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
Organized by the Uganda Business and Disability Network (UBDN) in partnership with Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE), The Make 12.4% Work Initiative, and the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), it was an all-inclusive summit focused on creating more awareness on disability inclusive recruitment and also growing the membership of the network.
Jude Tumwiine, the HR manager Kampala Serena Hotel said that employment for PWDs can improve if companies create policies that promote equal employment opportunities for everyone including the differently abled.
“What should be done, for companies that have not done it yet, is to make disability inclusion a policy issue. Make it clear that also PWDs are welcome for employment,” Jude Tumwiine noted. “Then, you also need to make structural changes to create a more accommodating work environment for PWDs. For example provide walkaways as an alternative to staircases to ease mobility.”
Persons with disabilities in Uganda are significantly underrepresented in employment and face discrimination with a survey by the Uganda Manpower estimating that only 1.3% of all the employees in formal employment are persons with disabilities.
“We as PWDs yearn to see that everyone is concerned about the values and rights of PWDs; first by seeing a person before their impairment and then recognizing what anyone needs, a PWD also does.” Said Wakoko Eric, a visually impaired disability inclusion facilitator at Light for the world.
“When my child is being sent home for school fees, they won’t be excused because their parent has a disability. We also want financial safety and this can only be achieved through gainful employment.” Wakoko added.
According to the 2014 National Population and Household Census, persons with disabilities comprise about 12.4% of Uganda’s population. Disability inclusion is therefore essential for sustainable development.
“As HR managers and practitioners, we need to make sure that PWDs are understood and treated well at the work place. If treated well, PWDs can perform as good as any other able-bodied person in the work place.” Nabwiire Juliet Wandera, an HR specialist and 2017 recipient for the Best HR analytics award noted.
Meanwhile, the UBDN was launched in December 2019 with 8 founder members including CitiBank, Uganda Breweries Limited, Nation Media Group, Coca-Cola, Vivo Energy, Graphic Systems, Xclusive Cuttings, and Standard Chartered Bank.
As the network celebrated its 1st anniversary, they also managed to add seven new members on board who signed the charter committing to the UBDN. Some of these include; Housing Finance Bank, Golden Tulip Hotel, Footsteps Furniture, and Serena Hotel.
UBDN is an employer led network in Uganda that works towards creating workplaces and company culture that is respectful and inclusive towards persons with disabilities, promoting the hiring, retention and professional development of persons with disabilities.