04 SES 02 C, Vocational Training
Inclusion is full participation of people in society and work is one of the factors that most determines it, in addition to being essential for economic and personal growth. (Bruyère, Erickson, Ferrentino, 2003). Italian law (68/99) requires employers to hire a percentage of disabled workers. Yet, legislation alone is not enough to ensure effective inclusion in companies.
Investigation on this subject has focused on different aspects such as type of work (Holmqvist, 2009), employers’ characteristics (Gilbride, 2003) or corporate culture (Shur, Blank, 2005). Research shows that the main factors affecting the inclusion of disabled people in organizations are personal traits (attributes of the disabled person and the employer), environmental factors, and organizational characteristics such as norms, values, policies, the nature of jobs, and reward systems (Stone, Colella, 1996; Heerkens, 2004). Disability management analysis has especially focused on the issue of matching companies’ productivity goals with the needs of workers through “reasonable accommodation” conceived of as an interactive process involving both the employee and the employer.
Recent studies highlight that employers’ attitudes towards inclusion play a key role in ensuring the successful integration of disabled people in work. The literature emphasizes some important issues:
- Understanding of disability: employers can embrace either a “medical” or a “social” model, seeing disability just like a personal problem or, conversely, considering how the environmental aspects (organizational procedures and practices) may “disable” people and affect them (Barner, Mercier, Shakespeare, 2009);
- Size and type of activities: the size of the company (i.e. SMEs or large companies) and the type of activities carried out significantly affect the job placement of disabled people (Davidson, 2011);
- Attitudes: employers’ attitudes encompass perception of the worker’s profile (type of disability, gender, motivation, and lower qualifications), and presumptions about productivity (lack of productivity or rate of absenteeism) and costs (workplace accommodation), safety expenses, additional duties and responsibilities) (Ren, 2008; Australian Government, 2011);
- Previous experience: negative past experiences lead employers to be more reticent; conversely, greater knowledge about disabled people would enhance their hiring prospects, particularly since they constitute a loyal pool of workers. The quality of experience can be mediated by the services (Lyth, 2012).
Our research aims to identify the factors that influence the hiring of disabled people and facilitate inclusion in the workplace. Focusing on a sample of small and medium Italian enterprises, we interviewed employers and employees and analyzed how the process which facilitates or hinders a successful job placement occurs through a sequence of choices and decisions. Moreover, we explored which kinds of “arrangement” promote positive performance of the disabled worker in the company, as well as the way they are designed and implemented.
Australian Government, (2011) Employer perspectives on recruiting people with disability and the role of Disability Employment Services, Employment Monitoring and Evaluation Branch. Bruyère , S., Erickson, W., & Ferrentino, J., (2003) Identity and disability in the workplace. William and Mary Law Review, 44(3), 1173-1196. Barnes C., Mercer G., Shakespeare, T., (1999) Exploring Disability: A Sociological Introduction. Polity Press, Cambridge. Davidson, J., (2011) A Qualitative Study Exploring Employers' Recruitment. Behaviour and Decisions: Small and Medium Enterprises, Leeds, Department for Work and Pensions, Research Report No 754. Gilbride, G., Stensrud, R., Vandergoot, D., Golden, K., (2003) Identification of the characteristics of work environments and employers open to hiring and accommodating people with disabilities. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 46 (3), 130-137. Heerkens, Y., (2004) The use of the ICF to describe work related factors influencing the health of employees. Disability and Rehabilitation, vol. 26(17), 1060-1066. Holmqvist, M., (2009). Disabled people and dirty work. Disability & society, Vol. 24, No. 7 , pp. 869-882. Lyth, M., (2012) Employers' attitudes to the employment of the disabled, Occupation psychology, Vol 47(1-2). Mansour, M., (2009) Employers' Attitudes And Concerns About The Employment Of Disabled People. International Review of Business Research Papers, Vol. 5 No. 4, 209-218. Ren, L.R., Paetzold, R.L., Colella, A., (2008) A meta-analysis of experimental studies on the effects of disability on human resource judgments. Human Resource Management Review, 18, 191–203. Schur, L., Kruse, D., Blanck, P., (2005) Corporate Culture and the Employment of Persons with Disabilities, Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 23: 3-20. Stone, D.A, Colella, A., (1996). A model of factors affecting the treatment of disabled individuals in organizations. Academy of Management Review, Vol. 21, 352-401. Unger, D., (2002) Employers' attitudes toward persons with disabilities in the workforce: myths or realities? Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Volume 17, Number 1.
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