One of the most common questions that I get when I teach Disability awareness, is why don’t we see many, or any CV’s of persons with Disabilities? This usually comes from HR practitioners, but sometimes line as well , and of course from agencies too .
I am tempted to go into another train of thought which examines the stereotypic response to CV’s denoting disability, but I will leave that for another discussion.
No; what I want to bring up is a far broader issue , something more macro than micro if you like.
The reality is that no organization is doing well in terms of recruitment of people with Disabilities; in other words Disability Equity.
Yes even those companies suckered into the whole learnership scam, once again needing another conversation.
So lets examine why it is that, 15 years after the Employment Equity Act came out (1998) that we still see far too few people with disabilities in our workplaces. Lets go a little deeper, apart from the workplace, where else do we see people with Disabilities?
On public transport?
In the shops?
I could go on and on and the result would be the same; no we do not see too many people with Disabilities, and that is being generous, anywhere in our mainstream society.
So why not.
Think of where the focus is most of the time around Disability. jobs or employment.
Nothing wrong with that, you might say, and you would be right, nothing wrong with that at all, but consider this analogy.
Lets go back to some of the darker days of apartheid.
Say the seventies or even the eighties.
Now lets say the government at the time realized they had made a terrible mistake about job access for black people.
Imagine if they had said; ”ok you black guys, we have made a mistake, you can now apply for any job you like, no restrictions”.
“you can have any job you are qualified to do, you can be anyones boss, you can apply and get absolutely any job you are competent to do”.
“But, I am sorry, we will still have to keep the segregation signage up”.
“So you will still need to go in via different entrances”.
“and sorry, we will need to still separate public transport, so you will need to be on different buses or train carriages from your white colleagues”.
“And no, you still cant get into white schools”.
“And sorry there will still be restrictions on accessing good tertiary institutions”.
“and no, you will still not be able to live next door to a white person, or marry his daughter”.
“Also, we cant let you join the Christmas party, because its in a whites only area…”
but you can have any job you like!”.
So I put it to you dear reader, would that work!?
Given the endemic physical and attitudinal inaccessibility that prevails in our society; why would the theoretical clarion call for job opportunities work?
As much as finding employment for persons with Disabilities is important and even essential, it cannot be done in a vacuum, with no insentive or inducement to address the other issues that will certainly effect the success or failure of Disability empowerment.
Conclusion, until we in society begin to look at Disability in a holistic way as a mainstream society issue, you in companies and organizations will continue to fail in terms of Disability equity.
The following cartoon, says it all.
For those of us cant see, let me explain.
The cartoon depicts a restaurant , clear by its signage.
In addition, the primary displays appear to be very Disability friendly.
A big wheelchair sign, a further notice saying that everyone is welcome!. Even a sign saying that there is a Disability day special.
However, on closer examination, it appears that there is very little access available into the restaurant, steps without ramps, a big sign saying no dogs, a tow away zone right outside etc.