The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Innovation to Inclusion (i2i), on Thursday, November 19 launched the Kenya Business and Disability Network (KBDN), a new initiative to showcase business leadership on the inclusion of people with disabilities, be a single voice for businesses on disability issues and provide a platform for engagement with employees and government.
The network will foster partnerships between organizations that address disability and private sector companies as well as create space for learning and sharing of good practices. In turn, this will have a ripple effect on businesses embracing an inclusive and diverse workforce and becoming more disability confident.
The launch of KBDN was part of FKE’s Virtual Employer’s Annual Conference 2020, which was held between 18th-20th November. The conference focused on three thematic areas namely: The impact of Technology on Business Models and the workplace, Human Capital Trends and Skills of the Future and Regulatory Frameworks for the Changing Business Environment.
Speakers at the KBDN launch included: Mr. Wellington Chibebe, ILO Country Office Director, East Africa, and Mrs. Jacqueline Mugo, Executive Director of the Federation of Kenya Employers & General secretary, Business Africa, Leonard Chesire, i2i Innovation to Inclusion.
Mrs. Jacqueline Mugo reaffirmed the importance of working together so as to mainstream disability agenda in the workplace ‘Persons living with disabilities need to be addressed in social dialogue institutions and processes. There is a need therefore to support employers to be more disability-inclusive and confident. ‘One key strategy to achieve this is the promotion of employer-led networks on the business’
She further reiterated the FKE’s commitment to supporting People Living with Disabilities “FKE is so glad to be part of this initiative as we believe the promotion of employability of persons with disabilities is a shared responsibility. Stigma and discrimination are the greatest barriers to disability inclusion. We have a shared responsibility to address these barriers to ensure persons with disabilities are fully included in our societies,” Mrs. Mugo asserted.
International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Director Wellington Chibebe also welcomed the creation of the network. He voiced hopes that the network would change negative attitudes and mindsets towards people with disabilities, particularly among employers. “Our call to employers is to open themselves to increase opportunities for persons with disabilities as their employees, customers and members of the community,” Chibebe urged.
KBDN is also expected to play a leading role in engaging the government among other stakeholders to guarantee opportunities for PWDs.
At the moment, PWDs in Kenya face countless challenges including lack of access to opportunities and lack of accessibility features in buildings, towns and cities around the country.
The Persons with Disabilities Act, 2003, requires that public and private sector employers reserve 5 percent of jobs for disabled persons. This law is, however, ignored by many employers who discriminate against persons with disabilities even in cases where they are qualified for the job. There is still a big gap between the law and its implementation. What is needed is goodwill in the implementation of the existing law at all levels, as well as the provision of resources to support this change
FKE encourages all members to join the Kenya Business and Disability Network by visiting https://businessanddisability.or.ke/ and signing up to become members.