SALEH AL SHAIBANY –
Employers need to give equal right to the disabled people and they must stop discriminating them just because they have certain disabilities.
Oman has come a long way to acknowledge gender equality but many companies still fall short when it comes to employ people with various disability.
The Ministry of Manpower has reserved the right for the disabled to get jobs with a legislation that make it mandatory two per cent of the total workforce of any organisation should be reserved for the disabled.
However, employers still ignore the ruling and the rights of the disabled people.
Industry directors need to think beyond the label to give them a full representation in the corporate world. The private sector needs to think of tangible ways to change their hiring practices.
The negative misconceptions must be removed by dispelling myths about disabilities. The myth that the disabled are not capable or competitive in workplaces is baseless.
If there is a second chance with people who fall ill and get back to employment, there is never the first chance for people with disability. The employment gap between candidates with disability and without disability is widening when it comes to land a job.
The frustration starts with the application form when an applicant is required to declare whether they have a disability or not. It is like a red herring for employers with this declaration.
Most of disabled young people are well educated, thanks to the efforts of the Ministries of Education and Higher Education.
However, it is different when it comes to the job market. The disabled also want attitudes to change. The phrase ‘fit for work’ is isolating them from being considered for a job.
They feel that being on a wheel chair, deaf, blind or with polio is widely considered as one who is not fit to work. Such disabilities do not prevent them from performing a lot of tasks if given the opportunity. But breaking a vicious cycle of discrimination is never easy. It is a thorny issue and the one that is never discussed openly.
If the physically disabled applicants have a steep hill to climb when it comes to secure a position, those with mental health conditions or learning difficulty find it impossible.
Their greatest challenge is to be taken seriously. The lucky ones who get employed face a diversity of prejudice at work places.
They feel excluded. The reason is that the people who work with them cannot adjust around their particular needs. Colleagues find it difficult to cope with impairments because they don’t know how to deal with it. This is the reason why they close the door for more disabled people.
Only employers have to do is to give them the essential support they need. The support that could keep them at work and open doors for more. Support like mobility, sign language or visual aids, which are in abundance in the market and economically easy to acquire. Other support is to provide role models and peer networks to make them more comfortable.
The statistics in the local hospitals show that one in every five children born in the Sultanate has a disability of some description. This shows that number of people with disabilities is not falling.
To give them equal employment opportunity is not doing them a favour but it is part of the national obligation. To deny them jobs because they look different or take a little longer to complete a task is morally wrong.
People with disabilities are not stupid but only they need is a little consideration to prove their worth. It is not surprising that most of them feel there is a general conspiracy against them.