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Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Inclusivity program that builds more than just employer trust

By Vaseline May31,2024
Inclusivity program that builds more than just employer trust

A program led by Paralympics Australia is helping to bridge the gap between athletes with disabilities and employers looking to build inclusive workplaces.

The Building Employer Confidence (BEC) program, funded by the Australian Department of Social Services, aims to promote the understanding and appreciation of athletes with disabilities in work environments.

As a result of the program, a comprehensive set of valuable tools and resources have been developed to help employers build inclusive workplaces and assist para-athletes in finding meaningful employment.

The program is a collaboration between industry leaders who use their experience and influence to promote diversity and inclusion in the labor market.

Only 53 percent of people with disabilities are in the Australian workforce, compared to 84 percent of people without disabilities.

Five-time Paralympic swimmer and BEC program manager Matt Levy said the partnership not only highlighted the barriers to employment, but also how inclusivity can be enabled.

“The achievements over the past eight months include the creation of a new pathway questionnaire, a business readiness tool, an athlete dictionary and a job inclusion guide,” he said.

“The BEC program reaffirms the invaluable contributions people with disabilities make to the workplace, in line with the objectives of Paralympics Australia.”

Developed tools include:

  • Employment Pathways Questionnaire – to enable athletes to share their story and knowledge and apply this to the skills they can use from their sporting and disability background.
  • Business readiness tool – enables organizations to understand if they are ready to hire someone with a disability and what they need to focus on to become business ready.
  • Job Skills Matching – a job guide that is part of the inclusive practice, along with a dictionary of terms to help athletes articulate their transferable skills.
  • Pre-start guide – a checklist of what may be needed before you start.
  • Training for managers – a practical e-learning package with videos, documentation and quizzes to help managers build inclusive work environments.

Dual Paralympian Tori Pendergast said it was a great experience to contribute to the program as an athlete who has transitioned into the workforce.

“Collaborating on program design with fellow athletes was not only enlightening, but also empowering,” she said.

“Together we refined the process to effectively capture athletes’ needs and match them with suitable job opportunities.

“The experience not only enriched my understanding of the employment landscape, but also led to innovative ideas for future initiatives to bridge the gap between sport and career pathways.”

Australian Steelers wheelchair rugby captain Chris Bond was also part of the athletes’ working group.

“Every meeting I have attended in my role in shaping the project has been in collaboration with top athletes with extensive experience in the labor market,” said Bond.

“This in itself has enabled para-athletes to make a meaningful contribution to the project.”

The first results show that there are shifts in employers’ confidence in:

  • Insight into the required adjustments and support;
  • Recognizing the range of skills that a person with a disability can bring to the workplace;
  • Recruiting a person with a disability and effective onboarding processes.

Paralympic triathlon gold medalist Katie Kelly OAM PLY believes the program’s resources will strengthen organizations and improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

“By doing this, we will all contribute to raising the current OECD ranking of people with disabilities in Australia from 24 out of 27 OECD countries to the top 10,” she said.

“The BEC program makes this feasible.”

By Natalie McGarry, Australia Paralympics.

Published on May 31, 2024.

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