> Posted by Rosita Najmi, Program Manager, Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities
“Hire Me?” was the question one graduate of Gallaudet University chose as an adornment on the top of her graduation cap. Last week, as the disability and human rights communities, and all of us who care about inclusion, celebrated the 100th ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) I had the pleasure of celebrating the academic and personal achievements of an intern with whom I have been working since February. I joined proud parents, siblings, and professors at Gallaudet University’s 142nd Commencement. Since then, I’ve been considering how the bold question of that one graduate fits the context of financial inclusion.
In a previous blog post about the Center’s program Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities, we found a series of questions. One was directed at the Human Resources Department of financial service providers: “Are there any qualified persons with disabilities in your community you could consider for employment, an internship, or a volunteer opportunity?” In this post, we ask, “If you had two candidates who equally met your checklist of eligibility criteria, and one of them had a disability, how would you decide? To whom would you say yes?”
Many who are not familiar with disabilities might hold prejudices based on myths. The business case might be unclear or success stories unread. In the United States, an initiative called, “Think Beyond the Label” names and responds to some of these myths, outlines a business case, and disseminates success stories. It proposes, “Employees with disabilities have unique, competitively relevant knowledge and perspectives about work processes, bringing different perspectives to meeting work requirements and goals successfully.” They suggest that “hiring someone who “thinks outside the box” might be thinking too small when there’s an opportunity to hire someone who lives outside the box.” If you’re in the business of access and employing financial services at the bottom of the pyramid to provide social and economic inclusion, wouldn’t integrating the most vulnerable of that population help you reach your mission? It seems to have worked with women and rural populations, and we are starting to the see the results among youth.
Do you agree? Post a comment and let us know. What are the myths held by the HR Departments of financial service providers? We are listening and taking notes. Do you have success stories? Send us an email so we can write a case study. What business case are you realizing? Help us measure the social and economic impact of financial inclusion.
The Center’s program on Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities aims to gather and disseminate the evidence of the social and economic gains that can be realized if we do indeed “think beyond the label” and focus on proactively creating inclusion, versus minimizing the exclusion. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service of the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy finds that for the minority of workers with disabilities who do need some sort of special equipment or accommodation, 56% of these cost less than $600, with many costing nothing at all. Think Beyond the Label points out that tax incentives make it even easier for business to cover accessibility costs. But does this apply only in the US and other developed countries?
No and even less soon. Such incentives and other legal requirements will likely increase as the UN CPRD is ratified and enforced globally. Perhaps part of a business case would be a first-mover advantage of getting started now? The survey, “Banking Banana Skins 2011” ranks reputation #2 on the list of biggest risks for financial service providers. Would more inclusive hiring support a stronger reputation? According to Think Beyond the Label, 92% of Americans view companies that hire persons with disabilities more favorably. I wonder what that statistic would be if asked clients or neighbors of financial service providers in developing countries? Critics might think that populations in developing countries do not have the luxury, and therefore, would not likely bear costs—have a willingness to pay–to create common goods to support the welfare of others. Some thought this in the case of climate change, but a global public poll revealed the contrary. Even the poor, populations in developed countries, will vote and perhaps with their feet and wallets, in terms of where they seek their financial products and services.
Whether you’re selecting interns for the summer or hiring a new employee, ask yourself: What might the candidate offer that the organization does not already have? How might s/he help more effectively, efficiently, or creatively reach your organization’s mission? How might s/he contribute to the learning of others? And if you care about financial inclusion or access, how will he/she help you create it and be a part of the solution?