Business case for employing people with disabilities reaffirmed in Myanmar

Representatives of Myanmar disabled persons organizations, government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, and disability experts discussed ways to make workplaces more inclusive and acknowledged the benefits of hiring persons with disability.

Press release | 23 November 2017
YANGON (ILO NEWS) -  Leading up to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebrated on 3 December, the ILO and the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) brought together around a hundred stakeholders from business, trade unions, disabled persons organizations and government to discuss ways to combat discrimination and promote employment of people with disability (PWD) in Myanmar. The meeting was an opportunity to hear from international experts and learn from the experience of other countries.

Myanmar has ratified conventions and adopted important new legislation on the rights of persons with disability. Bringing their organizations together with the Government, employers and trade unions is a unique opportunity to look at how change can be brought to the workplace, to end discrimination and to create more decent work and training opportunities for workers with disabilities."

Rory Mungoven, ILO Liaison Officer in Yangon
Discussions covered the advantages and disadvantages of having compulsory employment quotas for people with disabilities, as well as other methods to improve accessibility to the labour market, such as job coaching and matching, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) targeted at PWD, and business champions for disability inclusion.

Vicky Bowman, Director of Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business said ‘The business case for employing people with disabilities is well-established: it means more motivated staff, greater employee retention, a wider pool of talent – and customers– and a stronger brand for the company. But businesses in Myanmar need to become more ‘disability confident’, and people with disabilities need to be more confident that businesses are willing to be champions of equal access to the workplace. That was why we convened today’s discussion: we wanted to raise awareness of options, opportunities and best practice from elsewhere, and build links between disability organizations and potential employers’.

Speakers from organizations of disabled persons included representatives from:
•    Myanmar National Association of the Blind;
•    Myanmar Independent Living Initiative;
•    Myanmar Autism Association;
•    Myanmar Deaf Community Development Association;
•    Shwe Minthar Foundation

Speakers from the business community included representatives from the Sule Shangri-La Hotel and the KBZ Bank.

A number of international experts also attended the meeting, including Stefan Tromel, ILO Senior Disability Specialist, Michael Jeewa, Joint Chief Executive of the Asian People's Disability Alliance (APDA) UK, and Cassandra Chiu, Director of The Safe Harbour Counselling Centre and Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum Singapore whose participation was sponsored by Parami Energy.

The multi-stakeholder workshop was preceded by a one-day training on disability inclusiveness for business organized by MCRB with Dr. Sanjukta Choudhury Kaul of the International Business Program of the Bina Nusantara University of Jakarta and Cassandra Chiu. MCRB is also working with the Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan to develop the Handbook for businesses in Myanmar on Employing People with Disabilities, which will be published in Myanmar language in early 2018.


All the presentations and a report of the workshop will be available on

The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) is a Yangon-based initiative funded by the UK, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and Ireland, based on collaboration between the UK-based Institute of Human Rights and Business, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights. The Centre was established to provide an effective and legitimate platform for the creation of knowledge, capacity and dialogue concerning responsible business in Myanmar, based on local needs and international standards, which results in more responsible business practices. It is a neutral platform working with businesses, civil society and government.