Office practices leave her feeling excluded

Just getting through the door to enter her office - an act most people take for granted - is often a test of patience for Ms Jane (not her real name).

The wheelchair user sometimes has to wait a good 10 minutes for her employer to open the heavy door.

Her company, a social enterprise of three years, has not modified the door even though it has staff with disabilities.

On top of the hassle, which she feels does not bode well for inclusivity, there is also the insensitivity shown by her bosses.

Ms Jane, who works in a retail role, said her employers tell customers that "it's very difficult for them to get a job without me hiring them", when referring to staff with disabilities.

Ms Jane, who is in her 40s, is one of the participants in a study on discrimination in the workplace faced by those with disabilities. The study, now in its first month, is being conducted by the Disabled People's Association and the Institute of Policy Studies.

The study is keeping the identities of the participants secret. To protect Ms Jane's identity, The Straits Times will not reveal her disability.

For Ms Jane, taking part in the study is a way to, hopefully, encourage change in society by bringing such discrimination to light.

While she understands that some of her gripes with work - such as perceived favouritism - could be part of regular office politics, other practices seem out of line with Singapore's push to be more inclusive.

"I was always told: 'Where will you go if you don't work here?',"she said.

"This hurts me... I feel really down.

"When I write in my journal (part of the information-collecting process of the study), I burst into tears when I write this and think about why this happens to me."

Kok Xing Hui

VIDEO
Hear what one wheelchair user has to say about workplace challenges. http://str.sg/4Yhy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2016, with the headline 'Office practices leave her feeling excluded'. Print Edition | Subscribe