Negosentro | PBDN 2023 Event Closes – Affirms Goal to Build Inclusive Workplaces for Persons with Disability | The Philippine Business and Disability Network (PBDN), a for-and-by business platform that provides barrier-free workplaces for Persons with Disability, recently held their annual conference entitled Working Beyond Barriers at SMX Aura last July 19.
It is estimated that there are over 650 million persons with disabilities in Asia according to the United Nations Population Fund. The Philippine Statistics Authority shared data stating that the unemployment rate for Persons With Disability increased to 7% in January 2022, highlighting the challenging environment that the PBDN Conference is attempting to address.
To serve as further context, there are 52 member-companies in PBDN; a mix of large multinational and local companies and leaders in their respective sectors. And yet of the 52 member companies, only 2 are on the top 100 publicly listed companies in the Philippines in terms of market capitalization (source: PSEi), illustrating the amount of progress workplace inclusivity has still yet to achieve in the local Philippine setting.
With the theme “Towards building a more accessible and equitable society for and with Persons with Disabilities”, the event was attended by over 170 different business and industry leaders who share the same goal: to work towards building inclusive workplaces for Persons with Disability.
The event included breakout sessions as well as panel discussions on relevant topics led by experts such as “How to Make the Case for Disability Inclusion in the Workplace”, “Building an ERG (Employee Resource Group) Within the Organization”, “Accessibility and Accommodations to Persons With Disabilities”, and more.
When asked about whether building an inclusive workplace for persons with disabilities was possible for a large company, Mr. Ramil Dela Cruz of JP Morgan Chase & Co stated, “We can be inclusive to Persons with Disability. Because that was the big question we had. Can we do it? So we’ve confirmed that as a whole organization with over 270,000 employees that we can do it. For the employees, we see that they can flourish in an organization like JP Morgan, That is a perfect marriage”.
Arch. Armand Michael R. Eustaquio shared government programs for Persons with Disability within the architectural industry, specifically BP 344 and RA 7277. Batas Pambansa Blg. 344 is “An Act to Enhance the Mobility of Disabled Persons [Persons with Disability] by Requiring Certain Buildings, Institutions, Establishments, and Public Utilities to Install Facilities and Other Devices” (Source: ncda.gov.ph/)
The highlight of the day occurred during the “I Wish” segment, where persons with disabilities shared how they hope companies can be more inclusive to them. Jennica Agustin, who is diagnosed with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, shared her struggle in her search for a job, having been rejected 40 times before finally landing a position at JP Morgan Chase & Co. Jennica’s plea to companies hesitant to hire a person with a disability is simple but powerful. “Give us a try. Don’t judge us by our disabilities. Try to hire us and doon niyo makikita ang kaya namin ibigay sa company. Sometimes mas better pa ung mga gawa namin…”
The PBDN team is targeting 80 members for 2023 and are thankful for their partners who have supported them since day 1. Their partners and sponsors include Austrian Embassy Manila, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Manulife Business Processing Services, Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, PayPal Philippines, Asian Development Bank, IBM Philippines, Bayer, B&M Global Services Manila, Nestlé, S&P Global, Visa, Reed Elsevier Philippines, TaskUs, BusinessWorld, CNN Philippines, Negosentro, SMX Convention Center Aura, PLDT, Smart Communications, Inc., Cebuana Lhuillier, The Northern Trust Company, Catch21, Concentrix, Global Care Medical Center of Canlubang, Asurion, and Aficionado.
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