An inclusive workplace and business is one that includes people with disabilities in its decision-making processes

Special address by Ms Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO DWT/CO-New Delhi, at the National Conference on Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities; A & I - The Future of India Inc. - Building Accessible and Inclusive Workplace.

Statement | New Delhi, India | 10 May 2022

• Mr. Piruz Khambatta, Chairman, CII-IBDN & CII National Committee on Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities 2020-21 and Chairman & Managing Director, Rasna Pvt Ltd
• Ms. Seema Arora, Deputy Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry

Disability Champions, Business leaders, Experts from the manufacturing sector, Officials from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Officers from the government departments,
Friends from NGOs, Media and colleagues

Good morning and Namaskar to you all!

I would like to begin by congratulating the Indian Business Disability Network for organizing this conference, the first one held physically following the pandemic, and it is so good to see you again in person! I also still distinctly recall the IBDN launch in January 2019 and it is indeed encouraging to note that the Business Community in India has rallied around the IBDN to ensure accessible and inclusive workplaces for all. The IBDN members have been proactive with initiatives to build disability-inclusive workplaces, which are no longer an option but a necessity.

I am sure that the experiences shared today by the disability champions, the government, employers, and business leaders will inspire even more employers to take positive initiatives to make the workplaces accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities.

Providing equal opportunities in employment to all and ensuring that no one is left behind is at the core of the ILO mandate, which is firmly founded on social justice. It is my pleasure and honour to be part of this august gathering today to share some thoughts on building disability inclusive workplaces.

The positive contribution that differently abled persons make to the world of work and society is increasingly recognized, which is recalibrating the global development agenda. Frameworks such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the International Labour Standards, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development's principle of "Leave No One Behind", play a critical role in breaking down barriers to decent work for persons with disabilities. Five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals reference disability, including Goal 8 of "full and productive employment and decent work for all" and Goal 10, which aims to " empower and promote social, economic and political inclusion of all".

The ILO's Centenary Declaration highlights the necessity for a human-centred approach for building the future of work, underscoring the need to ensure equal opportunities for persons with disabilities. The ILO Disability Inclusion Policy is implemented through comprehensive multi-annual strategies that establish indicators and targets against which progress will be assessed, and gaps addressed.

Let us remember that Persons with Disabilities want to be a part of the solution and not the mere recipients of aid and assistance, as "nothing about us, without us" goes as the movement's motto.

It is a proven fact that disability inclusion makes good business sense, bringing diversity, creativity, talent and reliability. The ILO Global Business Disability Network, with leading multinational companies as members, has created new pathways in disability inclusion by making workspaces physically and digitally accessible and employing persons with disabilities in leadership and decision-making positions.

People with disabilities will continue to be overlooked when it comes to hiring until more employers come forward to dispel the myth that disabled talent is "hard to find".

The ten principles of the ILO Global Business and Disability Network Charter provide a framework to help enterprises achieve business success while simultaneously creating equal opportunities for people with disabilities. The Charter Self-Assessment Tool can help employers identify areas for improving the company's disability inclusion policies and practices. This Charter is the only one of its kind and affords global recognition to its signatories.

I am sure many of you are already implementing some of the principles stated in the Charter to make the business accessible and inclusive, however, for the benefit of all present today, I would like to share these 10 principles, which are:
• Respect and Promotion of rights
• Non-discrimination
• Equality of treatment and opportunities
• Accessibility
• Job retention
• Confidentiality
• Attention to all types of disabilities
• Collaboration
• Evaluation
• Knowledge sharing

While committed to disability inclusion, some companies still struggle with the "how" of it, as they look for guiding principles and approaches that have proved to be successful.

To increase their "disability confidence ", companies are getting together to share their own approaches and practices with peers. In various countries, the National Business and Disability Networks are supporting their company members to include persons with disabilities in a variety of ways like:

- In the UK, a tool kit was developed, and an online platform is available to share best practices for gainful engagement of both the employees and customers with disabilities;

- In Bangladesh, an online platform has been developed to link company members with people with disabilities, facilitating job matching services.

- The Philippines Network launched an initiative to help persons with disabilities acquire skills for the "new normal" of work;

By bringing disabled people 'routinely' into the talent pipelines, we will shape more equitable and efficient labour markets for everyone. It also makes it easier for employers to say 'YES, I will hire 'you'. As a result, it makes it easier for people with disabilities to find meaningful jobs and careers.
I wish you all a fruitful discussion at today's conference and hope you enjoy the deliberations and take back simple yet impactful ideas on disability inclusion.

Thank you for your kind attention!