Opening Remarks at the Business Forum on Inclusive Employment: Realizing Decent Work & Economic Growth for All

By Francesco d'Ovidio, Director of ILO for Indonesia and Timor-Leste at the Opening of the Business Forum on Inclusive Employment: Realizing Decent Work & Economic Growth for All

Statement | Jakarta, Indonesia | 22 March 2016
Selamat Pagi Ibu dan Bapak sekalian,

  • Your Excellencies representatives of The Ministry of Manpower, The Ministry of Social Affairs, The Ministry of State-owned Enterprises, The Ministry of Education
  • Your Excellencies representatives of companies of the business sector
  • Your Excellencies representatives of disabled persons’ organizations
We are delighted to welcome you at this business forum.

Last Friday, 18 March 2016, the draft of Disability Law was signed by The House of Representatives and is awaiting for the enactment by the President. The most salient element of the law is how it sees the rights of persons with disabilities as inseparable from the equal rights of all members of the human family as defined in the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). For example, while in the previous law the state only affirmed 6 (six) rights for persons with disabilities, now in the new law the state acknowledges 23 groups primary rights, including the right to privacy and to decent housings, with the addition of four specific rights for women with disabilities and seven for children with disabilities.

The next step would be for us all to work together towards continuous improvement of both, the implementation of the law and the law itself. We are reminded about the complexity of our journey toward a more inclusive society.

I would like to point out that based on the scale of complexity of our actions, we can roughly divide our journey into two:
  • The first kind is the big overarching framework, whose design, implementation and impact depends on a multitude of entangled complex elements which makes direct measurement and impact assessment challenging to say the least. Government regulation such as disability law goes into this category.
  • The second kind includes concrete actions whose result we can reasonably measure, most of them within our sphere of influence, which then makes impact assessment possible. Initiative at our community and strategic programs at corporate level go in to this category.
Both kinds are without doubt important and are influencing one another. Today, I would like to propose that we focus on the concrete actions that we all here can take, which include: active contribution from the civil society and innovative solution from the business sector. We need to keep a good balance between working in the complex overarching theme and working in the smaller area that is more controllable and measurable.

Our theme for today is the business case for inclusive employment, which as we have discussed in Indonesia Business and Disability Network last December 2015: that inclusion and diversity makes business sense. When conducted properly, not only that inclusive employment will contribute to company’s bottom line or profitability, it will also contribute to the well-being of the general workforce in a company.

Our own research to a wide range of companies concluded that:
  • People with disabilities make good, dependable employees. Many cases document comparable productivity, lower accident rates and higher job retention rates between employees with disabilities and a company’s general workforce.
  • People with disabilities represent an untapped source of skills and talent, including technical skills if they have access to training and transferable problem‐solving skills developed in daily life. People who become disabled while working often have valuable skills and experiences learned on the job, in addition to their formal skills qualifications.
  • Disabled people, their families and friends are often an overlooked market segment. Especially in developed countries, many have significant disposable income.
  • Hiring people with disabilities can contribute to the overall diversity, creativity and workplace morale and enhance a company’s image among its staff, community and customers.
These cases reflect the understanding that inclusive workplaces is no longer about charity, but a choice that is mutually beneficial to both employers and persons with disabilities.

Within such paradigm, there are various sphere in which we can all offer contributions to make inclusive employment a reality. Allow me to highlight two of such spheres, all of which would be part of our discussion today:
  • Training: comprehensively improving education system to better match the challenges in the real world is a complex task. But it is not impossible for us to work together towards incremental improvements. Today we will hear from various actors whose impactful initiatives could inspire us all to do more in this sector. With a little bit of creativity and ingenuity, training and education which are easily seen as cost can be turned into a productivity boosting engagement.
  • Recruitment & placement: we have heard again and again how difficult it is for companies to recruit persons with disabilities, and at the same time, we also hear from people with disabilities how challenging it is to access opportunities in the business sector. To address this disconnection, we will discuss on a mechanism to forge a better collaboration. Innovations in this area can come from the civil society, such as Dnetwork and Kerjabilitas who are using the online platform to assist connection between persons with disabilities and companies, or from members of the government agency, such as Southern Jakarta office for job placement which takes the extra mile and conduct many progressive approach.
Ladies and gentlemen,

The ILO at the global level has a programme called Global Business & Disability Network, in which multinational companies agreed to work together in fostering inclusive employment. I would encourage our business participants today to look into the possibility of establishing a platform which would make collaboration easier and we are enthusiastic to be able to support such platform.

The newly launched 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whose goals include inclusive employment has also been adopted by the United Nations (UN) as the global development goals that has three (3) pillars: economic, social and environment.

As job creators, companies have a huge potential role in making this goal attainable. For example, companies can work together to look into how reasonable accommodation could be best implemented in our context, or how we can work with the creative sector to come up with universal design ideas for our workplace.

In the process of creating inclusive employment, we also make sure that people with disabilities are also actively engaged with the process.

Indonesia continues to make very strong commitments to decent work and play a critical role in ensuring that employment issues were included in the SDGs. And I am eager to look into the future where we all would have equal access to broad range of opportunities, where inclusion and diversity are really seen and treated as primary foundation to move towards decent work for all.

Thank you.