Mid-December 2019, the Ethiopian Business and Disability Network (EBDN) hosted an Inclusive Employers Forum with a panel discussion that addressed the importance of inclusive employment and how to create an inclusive business plan.
The EBDN, with the support of Light for the World, ILO and the Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development (ECDD) hosted an Inclusive Employers Forum. The event began with an address from keynote speakers Asalfew Amedin – disability directorate director at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs – and Bob Ransom – senior advisor at the ECDD.
It was followed by a panel discussion on the importance of inclusive employment as well as misconceptions employers may have with regards to the employment of people with disabilities. Panel members included ILO representative and longtime disability advocate Fantahun Mellse, African Disability Forum representative Birhanu Teferra, Oxfam HR Business Partner Michael Shiferaw and Bekdes Groups Chief Financial Officer Fasil Bekele. During the Q&As section of the discussion, panelist Michael Shiferaw announced that Oxfam Ethiopia will pledge to hire 10 new female interns within the year 2020 and that 5 of these interns will be women with disabilities.
With almost 70 attendees from private sector, government, NGOs and industrial parks, EBDN managed to register 20 new companies to the network. The event ended with an award ceremony where Hawassa Industrial Park company Hela Indochine PLC was awarded the 2019 inclusive employer of the year award. Hela – an EBDN member – has worked diligently at creating an inclusive work environment and with the support of ECDD has managed to hire over 15 people with disabilities.
With over 17% of the Ethiopian population living with a disability and 95% of that population being unemployed, according to the 2011 World Report on Disability, it is events such as this forum that will raise awareness and motivate organizations to tackle this cross-cutting issue of employment and disability.