Written by: Nurul Wan Faisal and Lim Qi Han
In February 2021, Micron Malaysia announced that it aimed to employ and recruit 50 members with disabilities, in line with their pledge made to Valuable 500. By the end of January, Micron had already trained 36 hearing-impaired operators in its workforce and is on the way to achieving their goal.
What is the Valuable 500?
Micron is only one out of the 500 companies who had pledged to the mission statement of Valuable 500, introduced in 2019 to advance disability inclusion within their organisations.
The CEO, Caroline Casey who lives with a disability of her own, believes that the scale of 500 companies is enough to be a tipping point to break the disability silence.
With 1.3 billion individuals globally living with a disability, and estimated 4.5 million individuals in Malaysia, it is past due to empower people with disabilities in the workforce. Hopefully, with strong companies on board such as Shell, Microsoft and Apple, it may bring the right pressure to expedite equality.
Microsoft believes that inclusive hiring is key to achieving more. Their company policies include hosting Ability Hiring events, inclusive interviews, training and educating their teams on disability etiquette and providing interview accommodations to increase the diversity of their teams, to positively impact the culture of the workplace and the way they develop their products.
As one of the leading employers in the “Autism @ Work” program, Microsoft has adopted a community approach to onboarding and supporting new employees with autism. A “support circle” is assigned to each new hire with autism to provide various forms of necessary support to onboard and socialise them.
Microsoft prioritises the importance of connecting new hires with available resources and to guide them to navigate existing support structures within the organisation.
Shell, one of the leading energy companies, embraces the differences between people to deepen the understanding of their customer base and develop innovation among employees.
Shell’s Occupational Health organisation offers confidential support for employees with disabilities in the workplace by listening to individual challenges, discussing possible adjustments and providing available and necessary resources and assistance.
Their enABLE Networks further provides a platform for employees with and without disabilities to have open discussion about disability.
By sharing experience and advice, it would help to spread awareness of various disabilities in the organisation and provide an inclusive working environment.
All Nippon Airways (ANA)
As the largest airline in Japan, ANA (All Nippon Airways) believes that they are responsible as a public transportation entity to serve and establish an inclusive and sustainable society.
ANA has hired more than 830 employees with disabilities to play active roles in duties related to safe flight operations, customer service, office work, and many other responsibilities.
To improve accessibility for disabled passengers and employees from pre-departure through final destination, ANA has been renovating airport facilities to improve accessibility for passengers with disabilities and installing wheelchair-accessible lavatories on their aircraft.
The ANA Group have also made cultural and structural changes to their management style in their efforts towards a barrier-free mindset, which includes providing inclusive and universal service training for executives and employees; holding interactive seminars at homes for the elderly and people with disabilities; and providing audio and braille versions of
information in their in-flight magazine.
The Future Workplace in Malaysia?
As of 2021, 146 companies out of 500 have locations throughout Malaysia. Micron is one of the few that have taken a proactive step in their pledge to the Valuable 500 within the country.
But how many companies have yet to take action, and how many still have not implemented their policies to their offices in Malaysia?
The pandemic has spared nobody and casted thousands into unemployment. People with disabilities are pushed further to the edge.
Valuable 500 remains a positive symbol of corporate intention for inclusivity in the workplace, but there must still be public pressure to ensure accountability amongst these companies. This year it might be 50 employees, but for next year, companies should aim much higher.