Disability employment attitudes and practices in South African companies : a survey and case studies

Wiggett-Barnard, Cindy (2013-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Persons with disabilities (PWDs) remain under-represented in South African (SA) companies. Negative attitudes and ignorance of employers may contribute towards unemployment of PWDs, as can inadequate accessibility, accommodations and company policies on disability. A lack of SA literature on employers’ attitudes and practices on disability motivated the study. A web-based survey was developed to investigate employer attitudes on the employment of PWDs in SA companies. In total, 348 companies were invited to take part in the survey, and 86 companies completed it (25% response rate). One person per company, mostly from Human Resources (HR), completed the survey. Findings from the survey showed that global attitudes towards PWD employment are positive, but that physical and sensory disabilities received more favourable ratings than psychiatric and intellectual disabilities. Most managers reported satisfaction with the job performances of their PWDs. Accessibility in the survey companies is still lacking. Modifications to the physical environment are the most common accommodation made by the companies. Costs for making accommodations were just a bit more or the same than initially anticipated. Companies valued information on the preparation of the environment for PWDs and the cost of accommodations. Companies which employed more than one percent of PWDs were significantly more likely to report that their Diversity/Equity documents include a disability policy. A case study approach was used to obtain qualitative information on the experiences and practices with and of PWDs in three companies with some success in employing PWDs. All companies surveyed that had more than two percent PWDs were requested to participate in the case studies, and three companies agreed. Interviews were performed at these companies with HR personnel, supervisors, co-workers and PWDs. Case study findings show that office environments present more suitable and easier job opportunities for PWD employment, and that certain disability types present too great a risk for employment in dangerous environments. The case study companies do seem to accept PWDs in general, specifically in the immediate working teams of PWDs. None of the managers interviewed indicated problems in managing their PWDs and most apply general management principles. Those with direct contact with PWDs confirmed that they were productive and dedicated. Despite this, very few PWDs are currently being recruited into the companies, but targeted recruitment of PWDs has started. The companies have adequate accessibility in the immediate environments of PWDs, but not widespread accessibility. All the companies have company guidelines and experiences in making reasonable accommodations. Very few PWDs have been advanced in the companies and few fill management positions. Although all the companies have disability policies in place, there is sometimes a discrepancy between policy and practice. The most prominent company initiatives for PWD integration are declaration drives, financial aid initiatives and awareness raising on disability. This study provided evidence that PWDs can be productive, have good co-worker relationships and generally do not make unreasonable accommodation requests. Companies can improve their disability guidelines, accessibility and accommodation processes, but actual contact and sensitisation can increase integration of PWDs.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Persone met gestremdhede (PMGs) is steeds onderverteenwoordig in Suid-Afrikaanse (SA) maatskappye. Negatiewe houdings en onkunde van werkgewers kan bydra tot werkloosheid van PMGs, asook onvoldoende toeganklikheid, akkommodasie en maatskappy-beleid oor gestremdheid. 'n Gebrek aan SA literatuur oor werkgewers se houdings en praktyke teenoor gestremdheid motiveer dié studie. ’n Web-gebaseerde opname is ontwikkel om werkgewer-houdings oor die indiensneming van PMGs in SA maatskappye te ondersoek. ’n Totaal van 348 maatskappye is genooi om deel te neem aan die opname en 86 maatskappye het dit voltooi (25% respons-koers). Een persoon per maatskappy, meestal van Menslike Hulpbronne (MH), het die opname voltooi. Bevindinge van die opname het getoon dat algemene houding teenoor PMGs positief is, maar dat fisieke en sensoriese gestremdhede meer gunstige graderings as psigiatriese en intellektuele gestremdhede ontvang. Die meeste respondente het tevredenheid getoon met die werkvertonings van PMGs. Toeganklikheid in die maatskappye is steeds onvoldoende. Veranderings aan die fisiese omgewing is die mees algemene akkommodasie wat deur die maatskappye gedoen is. Kostes vir akkommodasies is net ’n bietjie meer of dieselfde as wat aanvanklik verwag is. Maatskappye stel ’n premie of inligting oor die voorbereiding van die omgewing vir PMGs en die koste van akkommodasie. Maatskappye wat meer as een persent van die PMGs indiens het, was beduidend meer geneig om te rapporteer dat hulle diversiteit dokumente 'n gestremdheid beleid insluit. ’n Gevallestudie benadering is gebruik om kwalitatiewe inligting te kry oor die ervaringe en praktyke t.o.v. PMGs in drie maatskappye met relatiewe indiensneming sukses t.o.v. PMGs. Alle opname maatskappye met meer as twee persent PMGs is versoek om deel te neem, en drie maatskappye het ingestem. Onderhoude by hierdie maatskappye is gevoer met menslikehulpbron-personeel, bestuurders, mede-werkers en PMGs. Gevallestudie bevindinge toon dat die kantooromgewing meer geskikte en makliker werkgeleenthede vir PMGs bied, maar dat dat sekere tipes getremdhede ’n te-groot risiko is vir indiensneming in gevaarlike omgewings. Daar blyk ’n groter aanvaarding van PMGs in die algemeen te wees by die maatskappye, spesifiek in die onmiddellike werkspanne van PMGs. Nie een van die bestuurders in die ondersoek het probleme aangedui met die bestuur van PMGs nie en meeste pas algemene bestuursbeginsels toe. Diegene met direkte kontak met PMGs bevestig dat hulle produktief en toegewyd is. Ten spyte hiervan word min PMGs gewerf deur die maatskappye, maar geteikende werwing van PMGs het begin. Die maatskappye het voldoende toeganklikheid in die onmiddellike omgewings van PMGs, maar nie wydverspreide toeganklikheid nie. Al die maatskappye het wel maatskappy-riglyne en ervarings met die voorsiening van redelike akkommodasie. Baie min PMGs word wel bevorder in die maatskappye en min vul bestuurposisies. Alhoewel al die maatskappye ’n gestremdheidsbeleid het, is daar soms ’n verskil tussen beleid en praktyk. Die mees prominente maatskappy inisiatiewe vir PMG integrasie was verklaringsinisiatiewe, finansiële steun en bewusmakings-veldtogte van gestremdheid. Hierdie studie bewys dat PMGs produktief kan wees, goeie mede-werker verhoudings het en oor die algemeen nie onredelike akkommodasie versoeke rig nie. Maatskappye kan hulle gestremdheidsriglyne, toeganklikheid en akkommodasie prosesse verbeter, maar werklike kontak en sensitisering kan integrasie van PMGs verhoog.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/79800
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