How can HR help people with disabilities?

Vector is the first employer in NZ awarded with the Accessibility Tick for its D&I efforts

How can HR help people with disabilities?

The electricity and gas distribution company Vector has been announced as the first employer awarded with new Accessibility Tick in New Zealand.

The Accessibility Tick is a new programme aimed to help employers create a more accessible and inclusive New Zealand for people with disabilities.

The steps Vector has taken to encourage a more accessible workplace include: integrating accessibility into their Health and Safety protocols; senior managers attending unconscious bias training; and changes to their recruitment processes and the way vacancies are advertised to encourage those with disabilities to consider Vector as a workplace.

Vector’s chief risk officer, Kate Beddoe, said diverse, inclusive, and accessible workplaces are “win-win situations”, as employees feel valued and accommodated, which boosts productivity, raises morale, and results in a more successful business.

“Making our workplace even more welcoming will benefit these employees and means we can also tap into a talented pool of prospective employees,” said Beddoe.

“Being awarded the Accessibility Tick, alongside our Rainbow Tick and accreditation as the only large corporate business in New Zealand committed to the Living Wage, demonstrates Vector’s commitment to providing an accessible and equitable workplace for everyone.”

Accessibility Tick programme lead, Tanya Colvin, congratulated Vector for its commitment to accessibility, and for its willingness to get involved at an early stage to co-design a programme that will resonate with the business community.

Colvin said that while there has been great appetite from New Zealand employers to be inclusive of people with disabilities for some time, the missing piece for many has been the ‘how’.

“We know employers see the value in fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. We have seen them tackle inequities in areas such as gender and demonstrate their commitment to the LGBTTI community through the Rainbow Tick,” said Colvin.

“Meanwhile the roadmap to accessibility has not been all that clear, so we are pleased to be helping employers take it out of the ‘too hard’ basket with the Accessibility Tick programme.

“The Tick provides them with the structure, tools and support to implement an action plan where they are committed to taking meaningful steps towards accessibility and inclusion through policy, culture and environmental changes.”

Moreover, The Blind Foundation is a lead partner in the Accessibility Tick programme, which has grown from the organisation’s insight that a pan-disability initiative was needed to create systemic change supporting employment of people with disabilities.

Blind Foundation spokesperson Norman Evans said the organisation supports clients through its employment support service and while that has fostered many individual success stories, it is “only a drop in the ocean” in creating meaningful change for employment of people with disabilities.

“New Zealanders with disabilities are three times less likely to be employed than their non-disabled peers. Over more than 15 years, we haven’t moved the dial significantly in bridging that gap,” said Evans.

“The Accessibility Tick programme turns the traditional approach on its head, highlighting that the problem isn’t about people with disabilities – it’s about how workplaces are setup to include them.”

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