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A CALL TO ACTION FROM THE SOUTH AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (SAHRC)

16 April 2019

Become a disability confident employer

As part of its mandate to promote, protect and monitor human rights in South Africa, the SAHRC today issued a call to action to employers – starting with JSE listed companies – to become “Disability Confident”. Speaking at a Disability 360° Seminar and Knowledge Workshop hosted by Transformation Integrated Africa (TIA) and Cowan Harper Madikizela (CHM) Attorneys, Advocate Bokankatla Malatji, SAHRC’s Commissioner in charge of disability, extended the challenge to companies to ensure that at least 1% of all new appointments made during 2019 is of persons with disabilities. He stressed, that in dealing with any change initiative, the task must be measurable. He added that “Rome was not built in a day”, and that overnight change was not expected”. He extended the challenge and urged ALL JSE listed companies to make a concerted effort to employ at least 1 new person (not 1%), 1 person with a disability before the end of July this year. “This will translate into 365 new jobs for persons with disabilities in the next four months’, he said.

Explaining what it means to be a “disability confident employer”, Trevonica Naidu, CEO of TIA and advisor to the SAHRC explained that “Disability Confident employers are those who are creating inclusive cultures for people with disabilities, are valuing and harnessing the potential of such employees, and believe in the skills of their employees. These employers are also actively working at removing the barriers to the recruitment and retention of people with disabilities in their workplaces”.

The Disability 360° Seminar also provided a platform for the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP) to launch its newly developed Disability & Employment Professional Practice Standard – intended to assist employers to remove barriers to the employment of persons with disabilities. The seminar and knowledge workshop brought subject matter experts together with Disabled People’s Organisations and employer representatives that were seeking to gain a better understanding of disability rights, responsibilities and requirements as it relates to the employment of persons with disabilities in South Africa’s workplaces. Topical on the agenda, was the update from the Department of Social Development’s Mr Benny Palime, who shed light on the rationale and expectations behind the 7% disability target being communicated by his department.

Commissioner Malatji concluded by stating that at the end of July 2019, the SAHRC intends publishing a list of all those organisations who have risen to this call to action to become a disability confident employer. Kerry Gantley, partner at CHM reminded delegates of the significance of March 21 in South Africa’s national calendar, serving as a reminder of the need to promote human rights and the rights of persons with disabilities to work. Ms Gantley also stressed the need for employers to examine the status quo and to explore how employment outcomes for people with disabilities can be changed for the better.