The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) believes that promotion of employability of Persons with Disability is a shared responsibility. In collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), FKE is establishing the Kenya Business and Disability Network (KBDN)which will be a single voice for businesses in Kenya on disability vis-à-vis other stakeholders, including government and workers.
This will also be a network for showcasing business leadership in Kenya on the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities and a space for sharing and learning about good practices for purposes of replication. With support from the ILO, companies and associates, the KBDN will push the business case for the inclusion of persons with disabilities into mainstream corporate plans and priorities and shift the dialogue from charity to social investment and to ensure that no one is left behind. “FKE remains at the forefront in encouraging employers to support initiatives that make it possible for persons with disability to access employment.
In addition, FKE has continued to engage different stakeholders to support and build the capacity of employers on issues of disability,” said Mrs. Jacqueline Mugo, Executive Director, Federation of Kenya Employers while opening a virtual session on Promotion of Employability of People With Disability. She noted that during and post the Covid-19 crisis and as businesses begin to rebuild, new ways of work are being developed and new industries are growing.
Therefore Persons with Disabilities must be fully included to ensure that employers “build back better, into a better future”. “Employers are open to hiring persons with disabilities – but we may first need support because we may not know “how” and “where” to begin. We are therefore happy about the technical support that the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the Innovation to Inclusion Project is providing by identifying qualified persons with disabilities and linking them with prospective employers,” said Ms. Mugo “The cost of employing and making workplaces conducive for Persons with Disability is not quantified in Kenya.
This at times makes employers hesitant to employ such persons. Leonard Cheshire programme will conduct a study to establish the additional cost to employers in order to improve access to employment, retention and progression of Persons with Disability at the workplace,” said Ms. Nancy Gitonga, Country Representative, Leonard Cheshire.
The inclusion of persons with disabilities into the Labour Market has both a human rights and economic perspective. It is the right of every individual, with or without disability to have access to decent employment and it also makes good business sense to employ persons with disabilities. They represent a large, educated, skilled yet untapped labour pool. Employers were urged to tap into this critical pool.
The business case for employing persons with disabilities include reduced employee turnover, increased industry tolerance and improvement in productivity. Further, companies hiring people with disabilities often discover that they have a competitive advantage and access to new markets and products Ms. Mugo urged employers to raise the level of awareness on disability and engage all employees in understanding the obvious physical barriers as well as attitudes, biases and misconceptions that may hinder employees with disabilities from thriving in the workplaces.
She also asked employers to keep up-to-date with current legislation, information and concerns on disability inclusion laws, and tax provisions in order to successfully promote the business case for hiring persons with disabilities.
Other Participants: Mr. Isaac Manyonge, Ag. Executive Director, National Council for Persons with Disabilities, Employer Organizations who are Members of FKE and representatives from the Association of Persons with Disability.
The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) represented members during the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Summit held on 2nd July 2020. The virtual meeting brought together Government representatives, Employer Organizations, workers representatives, and Development Partners to discuss the impact of Covid- 19 on the World of Work in Africa and share good practices in response to the crisis.
Ms. Jacqueline Mugo, Executive Director FKE and Secretary-General, Business Africa while presenting her closing remarks in the session noted that Covid-19 had drastically changed the landscape. In response to the crisis, African Governments put up measures to control its spread. Of course with a far-reaching negative impact on the economy. “Many governments, including my own country Kenya, have availed considerable economic stimulus packages to support the population and businesses. Unfortunately, these packages have proved inadequate due to the prolonged duration of the crisis and the far-reaching measures and restrictions put in place to keep the virus in check and the inability to cushion employers on payroll costs,” said Mrs. Mugo.
She also acknowledged the challenges facing employer organizations including loss of membership and income due to the financial difficulties facing enterprises. Ms. Mugo noted that this situation poses a risk on employer organizations' capacity to represent the private sector’s voice and actively engage in advocacy and social dialogue. Towards this end, she called upon the ILO to play a role in assisting tripartite constituents to navigate the crisis and recover from it sustainably.
She also called upon African governments to urgently provide further and effective support to businesses to stay afloat and avoid large scale job losses. “Our governments should ensure that financial support reaches enterprises, especially SMEs,” emphasized Mrs. Mugo
While lauding Kenya for expanding its scope of social dialogue and tripartism through a Memorandum of Understanding to manage the conflict, she noted that only a few African countries possess the institutional mechanism for involving social partners in policy issues outside of labour matters. In this regard, the Executive Director urged ILO to assist its constituents to increase their capacity on social and economic key drivers, including those for productivity growth, while at the same time promoting social dialogue and tripartism through the UN Cooperation Framework and the sensitization of line Ministries at the national level.
Nevertheless, all is not lost as the continent could seize the opportunities that the crisis offers to accelerate reforms. For instance; in today’s integrated and borderless world, digital technologies offer opportunities for productivity. Africa should improve IT infrastructure to increase accessibility.
Even though the pandemic is unprecedented, Mrs. Mugo maintained that the Continent had no option but to be resilient as has always been. Working together to minimize the health, economic and employment impacts of this crisis and build back better and stronger in Africa!