The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) entered into force in 2008. It describes the right to work for people with disabilities in an open, inclusive and accessible labour market:
“States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work on the basis of equal rights with others, including the right to earn a living through work freely chosen or adopted in an open, inclusive and accessible labour market and working environment.”
For Germany, this requirement is equivalent to direct and unrestricted access to the first labour market for people with so-called mental disabilities and people with reduced performance. Is this a realistic idea or just a politically correct one in the debate on inclusion? And: What are the benefits for companies if they integrate people with performance limitations into their operations? Can the”normalos” learn something from the”handicapped” that is useful for the organization, maybe even pays off?
Using experiences from another world
Let’s turn it around: There are managers who work actively in a social institution for a certain period of time and get to know the challenge and the diversity of social work. They bring this experience back into their personal everyday life, expand their social competence and their social awareness. Looking at a different side of life makes it possible to build bridges between areas that are in constant conflict of objectives in our society. Here economic success and professional performance, there humanity, sensitivity for the needs of employees beyond functionality.
Why not simply bring a new world of experience into your own company? Is it conceivable to specifically design workplaces in such a way that people with limitations in their performance possibilities still create a fully-fledged workplace in their company? Institutions such as ministries, landscape associations, institutes or universities dealt with holistic approaches to creating new jobs for people with disabilities in the first labour market. Companies are often skeptical and/or have little experience with the successful integration of disabled people.
Making new experiences possible …
There are obvious advantages if the jump is dared. Companies need competent managers who are prepared to move into uncertain fields, who know more than one facet in their lives and who can maintain the balance between humanity and economic success. The view beyond one’s own nose and activities on unfamiliar terrain expand social skills and the culture of togetherness within the company. Managers who are able to differentiate, understand different needs and organise constructive solutions for successful cooperation make valuable contributions to the (also) economic success of the organisation. Employees who feel understood and recognized in their concerns by their managers are more efficient and more deeply connected to the company.
… and pass it on
It’s nice when individual managers have new experiences and benefit personally from them. However, the development of corporate culture requires “normalization”. The experience gained must be known within the company as a desired development. Inclusion does not work without appropriate communication; it remains in the corner of the well-meant special project. It requires exchange within the direct circle of employees, within the management circle and within the internal networks (intranet).
It is not a matter of tolerance, but of equal participation. Good old Goethe has already given us this:”Tolerance should actually only be a temporary attitude: it must lead to recognition. Enduring is insulting.”