Enabling Mark awards highlight employers' efforts to support staff with disabilities

Around 10 per cent of Speco's staff are people with disabilities. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Since cleaning technology company Speco started in 2017, it has made it a point to be inclusive in its hiring policies.

Around 10 per cent of its staff are people with disabilities.

The company's chief executive, Mr Benjamin Chua, 33, said the firm had to figure out how to help these workers handle heavy cleaning equipment.

For instance, the workers initially had to lug a 15kg backpack that held disinfectant liquid and required two hands to operate the attached cleaning equipment.

The company then came up with the Speco Nano Spray. The device, which weighs less than 200g, can hold up to 50ml of disinfectant.

The smaller size means that it can be held in one's palm, and requires only the push of a small button to dispense the liquid.

"From the start, we have been trying to adopt cleaning technology that they are able to use comfortably.

"When our company transitioned (from being just a cleaning firm), we wanted to adopt the tools and ensure that we do not leave anyone behind," said Mr Chua.

The spray, developed over the course of last year, won Speco the Enabling Innovation award.

It recognises committed employers who have put in place new projects, ideas or innovation in the organisation to improve the employment, employability or productivity of people with disabilities.

Aegis Building & Engineering; social enterprise Inclus, which helps adults with disabilities find employment; and Procter & Gamble received the award as well.

The awards were given out at the inaugural Enabling Mark Awards ceremony on Friday (Aug 27) at the Istana by President Halimah Yacob.

The awards are organised by SG Enable.

Mr Chua said employees with disabilities were heavily involved in the development phase of the new spray system.

"We also separated the job scope. For example, those who can carry the big backpacks can cover the larger areas, while the rest can do more meticulous work, like coating small areas such as switches or toilet handle bars," said Mr Chua, whose company also received the Enabling Mark (Silver) award.

Marina Bay Sands was among those that won the Enabling Mark (Platinum) award - the highest accolade for the national-level accreditation for disability-inclusive employment that was launched last October.

Ms Shona Ann Lowe, director of casino training and game development at Marina Bay Sands, was also recognised as an Enabling Champion.

The award is given to management staff who have made commendable efforts in integrating employees with disabilities.

The 56-year-old's department started hiring people with disabilities in 2017.

"When we first embarked on this journey, our immediate challenge was to address existing mindsets of our hiring managers and co-workers.

"Some wondered about the feasibility of workplace modifications, while others were concerned about potential communication barriers, or how well the new employees would fit into the team," said Ms Lowe.

Changes made over the years include customising workstations to ensure complete wheelchair access and sufficient space for ease of movement, as well as installing new card access readers and push buttons at required doorways for those who use wheelchairs.

"Our premise for hiring is to always match the candidate's skill sets with the job demands, and once you manage to do that, the rest will follow through," said Ms Lowe.

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