How one HR team is destroying the stigma of disability

This global firm aims to bring people with disabilities into the workplace and hopes to spark a wider trend worldwide.

“In the corporate world, we need to work to remove the stigma of the word ‘disability’,” Brigette McInnis-Day, executive vice president of human resources at SAP told HRM.
 
“We should work to create an environment where disabilities are viewed not as a negative description but instead as a trait. When someone says, ‘I have a disability’, we should interpret that to simply mean that individual works differently than we do.”
 
SAP is leading by example here through its Autism at Work program.
 
Established four years ago, this initiative aims to see 1 per cent of the company’s workforce made up of those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by 2020. This figure is consistent with the percentage of people with ASD in the general population.
 
When the program launched, SAP’s chief diversity and inclusion officer Anka Wittenberg spoke on what those with ASD could bring to the workplace.
 
“They are employed not in spite of the fact that they are disabled but because of the strengths they bring by being autistic,” she said. “People with autism excel in any repetitive task that requires a lot of attention as well as in roles in communications, compliance, project management and HR.”
 
McInnis-Day told HRM that the firm was also working with stakeholders in the wider community in the hope that they would follow suit.
 
However, she stressed that having the correct motivation for bringing people with disabilities into the workforce is essential.
 
“We know that individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in the workplace but why is it important to ensure they are included? We should not want to include them just to meet compliance standards.”
 
Recent stories:

“I failed exceptionally fast” – Saatchi exec

Why HR should hire the wildcard

Why you should encourage workplace criticism
 

Recent articles & video

Tesla to lay off more than 10% of global workforce: report

Remote work to blame for Nike's innovation slowdown, says CEO

Couple to pay over $94,000 for wage violations

Government cautioned against cutting WorkSafe jobs

Most Read Articles

HRD HR Awards New Zealand 2024 Winners

HR leaders gather for industry event of the year

New Zealand unveils changes to tighten visa scheme