At the end of 2020, the arrival of the vaccine seems to announce the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
However, we still have many stages to complete to allow us to return to a kinder “new normal”. Furthermore, many projects were sidelined by the pandemic. So, we would like to close this fateful 2020 by highlighting projects that continued pushing for solidarity despite the circumstances. In particular, projects promoting the integration of those with fewer opportunities in the labor market. A labor market that currently is even more hostile. Could you imagine that only 15% of working-age people can get a job? Well, this is the reality of handicapped workers.
December the 3rd was the International Day for People with Disabilities. On that day the Prefecture of El Oro province, through the Secretariat for Social Development, organized an event aimed at giving greater visibility to the challenges faced by disabled people of working-age. The target: to create new opportunities in the province for those facing more obstacles for getting a job.
One such project is the Comprehensive Care and Job Placement Center for People with Intellectual Disabilities (CILAPDI), in Machala. They cater for children, adolescents, young people and adults with disabilities. Moreover, they help us to end with our stereotypes of disability. At CILAPDI we will find out what a person with a disability can offer at any job.
We all have limitations, there is always some working ability that we lack and keeps us from being 100% suitable for any job (we may not be the best team workers, or lack communicative skills, but have a greater analytical capabilities than others). We accept the fact that none of us is perfect for any job and value our outstanding skills for specific positions. Then, why not offer similar opportunities to people who have different and less common skills? Why not incorporate those with perhaps less intellectual or physical ability, but with other virtues? Because nobody is flawless at any job, we should all have similar job opportunities.
As stated in El Oro Prefecture’s Disability Day Program: “If you hire people with disabilities, you will hire qualified people with great motivation and drive for improvement. In addition, you will be promoting CSR policy, improving the working atmosphere, fostering professional performance. And, finally, you will also comply with the legal quota for people with disabilities”.
At Banabio, we did not want to miss the opportunity of furthering these initiatives. Our colleague, Carolina Tenicela, described the satisfaction of the company when normalizing the hiring of handicapped people. “It’s a very rewarding experience. Melanie is on our staff. She performs administrative tasks efficiently, and she also has a great sense of humor. Companies that have doubts about hiring people with different physical or intellectual abilities must know that they just have to know more about it. All we need is to prepare a little prior to receiving a handicapped person, and to provide them with the tools required for performing properly, as we would do with any new worker. We must also conduct seminars to improve the staff’s awareness on the topic. The disabled should not only perform marginal tasks, they can and should be part of a task force. We must receive them with the equality they deserve“.
In her interview, Carolina concluded: “The main message I can send to companies is to ignore the negative anecdotes of others. Give yourselves the opportunity to experience the employment inclusion of people with disabilities, and do not see it as mere legal compliance. Challenges in terms of job performance will appear with all kinds of people. Why not give them a chance? Why not be nice to life? Why not be empathetic and allow people with disabilities to come into our working lives? Don’t stop doing it“. As our colleague says, we can all become examples of social and labor inclusion.
For companies trying to create a barrier-free society for all, there are also organizations like “Somos capaces” who can help them to achieve it. In “Somos capaces”, Ecuadorian companies can receive the necessary advice. The goal in “Somos capaces” is to create a true culture of inclusion and accessibility in Ecuador.
Let us put into practice the lessons learned in 2020 and make 2021 a year for inclusion. The inclusion of those with fewer opportunities simply because they are different.
About a billion people in the world have a disability. This figure represents 15% of the world population, of which 80% are of working age (ILO, 2018). In 2017 in Ecuador, the number of people with a recognized disability was 433,169 (CONADIS, 2018), of which only 15% were employed.
Source: Revista Espacios Report, Vol. 39 (Nº 51) Year 2018, p. 3.