New accreditation for firms hiring people with disabilities

President Halimah Yacob and Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli at the online launch of the Enabling Mark, which was rolled out by SG Enable yesterday.
President Halimah Yacob and Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli at the online launch of the Enabling Mark, which was rolled out by SG Enable yesterday. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Businesses can now apply for a new accreditation framework meant to encourage them to be more inclusive and hire people with disabilities.

The Enabling Mark, rolled out yesterday by SG Enable - an agency dedicated to enabling people with disabilities - aims to be a benchmark as well as provide recognition to organisations for their practices in disability-inclusive employment.

The online launch over Zoom was attended by guest of honour, President Halimah Yacob, and Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli, as well as representatives from the business community.

Madam Halimah said she was glad to see trade associations and chambers of commerce attending the launch. "As multipliers with large employer networks, you can make a tremendous difference by working with SG Enable to promote disability employment and the Enabling Mark to your members," she said.

She suggested that businesses in the heartland could provide jobs to those with disabilities living around the area, thereby minimising the need for them to travel.

She also suggested that community development councils could help match jobs available in neighbourhood businesses to those with disabilities living in their district.

The new accreditation framework followed Madam Halimah's launch in March of the President's Challenge Enabling Employment Pledge, which was aimed at rallying employers to provide more employment opportunities to people with disabilities.

More than 140 employers have since made the pledge.

Yesterday, Madam Halimah highlighted South Korean-style barbecue restaurant chain Seoul Garden Group, which intends to apply for the accreditation.

Ten per cent of its staff are people with disabilities, almost half of whom have more than five years of service, indicating a positive staff retention rate and strong inclusive culture, she said.

To be eligible for the Enabling Mark, an organisation must be Singapore-registered as well as registered as an employer with SG Enable. It must also currently hire people with disabilities.

The organisation will then be assessed in six categories - leadership, culture and climate; recruitment practices; workplace accessibility and accommodation; employment practices; community engagement and promotion; and extent of inclusive hiring.

It will then receive the Enabling Mark, which has three tiers - platinum, gold and silver. Platinum will be valid for three years, gold for two and silver for one.

Another company that intends to apply for the Enabling Mark is events agency Adrenalin Group, which hired its first person with disability in 2011.

It now employs three people with physical disabilities - one-sixth of its total staff strength of 18 - working as a video editor, office manager and cleaner, said managing director Richardo Chua.

"We hope the mark will tell us, okay, we are on the right track. Since we've been doing this - inclusive hiring - for a while now, we just want to make sure we are really doing what we say we do," he said.

In his speech, Mr Masagos pointed out that as an inclusive employer, hiring people with disabilities is not just an act of charity, but a good business decision as well. He said: "I hope that one day, employers will come to see this Enabling Mark not as a form of special recognition, but as a new norm for employment."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2020, with the headline 'New accreditation for firms hiring people with disabilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe