Commonwealth News in London spoke with the Chair of the UN Committee, Ron McCallum, and the author of Commonwealth Secretariat publication Implementing Inclusive Education, Richard Reiser, about the adversity people with disabilities often encounter at school and in the workplace.
The discussions were sobering, including figures like more than one billion people, or one out of every seven people on the globe, living with a disability. Among those over one-billion people, only 44% of persons living with disabilities in OECD countries are employed, compared to 75% employment for those without disabilities. Children with disabilities are the largest group left out of schooling, making it that much harder for them to become employed, when they reach working age. This lack of people with disabilities in the workplace, creates an annual estimated $1.37-$1.94 trillion short-fall in the global economy.
During a Commonwealth Secretariat Expert Roundtable via Skype Ron McCallum, who was the first totally blind person to ever obtain full professorship at a University in Australia, said this:
“Without education, it is not possible for we persons with disabilities to live life to the fullest. Without education, it is almost impossible for we persons with disabilities to obtain employment. Without employment, we are unable to provide for ourselves and our families.”
If there has ever been a time for Human Resources professionals to begin hiring people with disabilities, it is now. With these kinds of global statistics staring us in the face, it’s time we took matters into our own hands and began making changes we can see. As HR pro’s, we have an arsenal of resources at our disposal. The ADA has a wealth of information on the benefits and how-to of hiring people with disabilities. As well as local chapters of the US Business Leadership Council. We offer an incredibly informational, and succinct HR Guide to Hiring People with Disabilities on this very site.
Global minds coming together to tackle these kinds of issues should inspire those of us who can, to make a difference. HR professionals are on the front line of hiring, and are in a unique position to act on this information and help initiate the hiring process for people with disabilities and accommodate both your company and the prospective employee. As somber as this news may be, we can consider ourselves fortunate to work in an industry where we can make real change in our workpla