Serasa Experian launches a national network on disability in Brazil to respond to specific challenges faced by employers when including people with disabilities in the workplace."I am very excited to witness a roomful of corporate, government and NGO representatives eager to promote people with disabilities in the workplace within Brazil" said Joao Ribas, Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator, Serasa Experian, as he addressed the participants of the 26th Forum on the Employability of People with Disabilities in Sao Paulo. This Forum, held by Serasa Experian every three months to exchange experiences related to hiring people with disabilities, put a specific emphasis on gathering employers interested in starting a national network on disability in Brazil.
The idea of building such a network emerged after Joao Ribas attended the ILO Global Business and Disability Network's Buenos Aires meeting in 2011. The ILO Network provided an example of an initiative that could be replicated at the national level to respond to specific challenges faced by employers when including people with disabilities in the workplace.
The morning session of the one day Brazil meeting on 2 May engaged all different types of stakeholders – from representatives of disabled persons' organizations and NGOs to those from the government and private sector – to discuss the situation of people with disabilities and employment in Brazil. The session included a presentation from Linamara Rizzo Battistella, State Secretary of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Sao Paulo, who described the steps the municipality is taking, such as incorporating a hiring quota of 5 per cent, to include disabled persons in the workforce. Andrea Regina, Manager of Corporate Citizenship, Serasa Experian emphasized that "employers are realizing the business benefits of having a diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities" and added that "at Serasa Experian, people with disabilities are seen as professionals and are hired based on their abilities and qualifications".
Debra Perry, ILO's Senior Specialist in Disability Inclusion, joined as a presenter to introduce the ILO Network. During her presentation, she stressed the importance of securing commitment from the top leadership to extend further opportunities to people with disabilities and to build a strong, successful national disability network.
In the afternoon, a meeting was held for selected businesses, NGOs and governments to form ideas on how to build a national network on disability. The session was attended by more than 50 companies were in attendance, including members of the ILO Network, such as Sodexo, Accor, Telefonica, IBM and Ernst & Young.
The enthusiasm from the meeting was great that on Friday, 4 May, just two days after the Forum, a group of companies as well as ILO's Debra Perry met to discuss the organization of the Business Network for Social Inclusion (Rede Empresarial de Inclusao Social). They put together a Steering Committee composed of nine companies and recruited 14 additional members. In the following days, this group of highly motivated companies drafted the Network's operating procedures and mission statement, created working groups and agreed to hold the Network's first Steering Committee meeting on 10 August.
(picture) The Business Network for Social Inclusion held its first Steering Committee meeting at IBM Brazil on 10 August 2012
The Network will continue to gather and mobilize companies in Brazil to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities by sharing good practices, forming partnerships and developing products and services to facilitate the recruitment and retention of disabled persons. In particular, the Network will focus on addressing the following seven issues related to disability: health and vocational rehabilitation, accessibility and assistive technology, formal education, training and professional qualifications, recruitment and selection and building positive disability awareness among teams, management and society in general.
Witnessing the major strides the Brazilian network has made within three months of the initial gathering, ILO's Debra Perry commented "I think the Network will go far, especially since Serasa Experian has the commitment from its top management to lead this effort forward".
About Serasa Experian
Serasa Experian (www.serasaexperian.com.br) is an information services company that provides data and analytical tools to help businesses manage credit risk, prevent fraud and automate decision making. Within its Diversity & Inclusion Unit, Serasa Experian operates the "Employability Programme for People with Disabilities", which offers a 4-month training programme for disabled persons and employs successful trainees thereafter. It also partners with other companies and the government to promote and exchange experiences around employing people with disabilities.