Disability and employment: health, an issue of attractiveness

“From the first confinement, we requested a hotline ergonomists in order to maintain contact with our disabled employees and support them in settling in at home, ”explains Corinne Colombo, disability and diversity expert in the human resources department of the pharmaceutical company Bayer France.

With the health crisis, many companies have strengthened the health care arrangements for employees, especially those with disabilities. At Bayer, they can count on a multidisciplinary team dedicated for ten years. It is made up of two occupational physicians, a social worker, an ergonomist, as well as a nurse present on most sites. This team sets up arrangements adapted to each employee according to their specific needs.

One of its first missions is to talk about the recognition of the quality of disabled worker (RQTH), because some employees are sometimes unaware of its existence. “As an employer, it is essential to communicate internally on disability in order to have a free voice on this subject and to establish a climate of trust,” adds Corinne Colombo. This consideration also promotes better listening between employees. This reinforces the internal cohesion as well as the feeling of belonging of the employees.

The coronavirus epidemic also represented the opportunity to thoroughly review the policy for the management of workers’ health. “At the start of the year, we changed mutuals,” slips Adeline Merlet, co-director of the NovaŜancO communication agency in Bordeaux (Gironde). We have chosen the most advantageous health supplement possible for reimbursements for wheelchairs or hearing aids. “

The company currently has nine disabled employees out of a total workforce of 13. It offers them the possibility of adjusting their working hours. “This enabled two of our employees to be able to continue their handi-sport training, which had been moved because of the curfew”, welcomes the co-director. At the same time, the company has set up partnerships with players in the medical sector. “We have signed an agreement with the Bordeaux school of osteopathy, in order to benefit from advantageous rates,” explains Adeline Merlet.

These multiple devices make it possible to reduce the burden of disability in the professional context. “As soon as we take the needs into account, the company retains the skills of the employees,” emphasizes Corinne Colombo. “An employee who feels esteemed, supervised, and for whom the environment is adapted to his specificities, invests himself 100% in his work, adds Adeline Merlet. We do not know about absenteeism or turn-over. This allows us to be particularly attractive and to continue our growth, even in this complicated period. “

Testimonials from 4 companies:

“Tailor-made disability support”

Consuelo Bénicourt, Social Responsibility Director at Sopra Steria

What does inclusion mean to you?

Chez Sopra Steria (Editor’s note: a digital services company), our social responsibility policy is based on equal opportunities and social inclusion. This covers all actions to integrate profiles remote from employment and fight against discrimination.

What commitments do you have in terms of disability?

We have strong recruitment commitments. However, few young people with disabilities manage to pursue higher education studies. This is why we launched the Handi’tutorat program in 2013, in partnership with around ten engineering schools across France. The objective is to offer academic support to high school students with disabilities, with the help and involvement of engineering students, to restore their confidence in their abilities and enable them to move towards higher education.

We also make a scholarship program available to young students with disabilities. Indeed, higher education represents costs to which are often added specific needs induced by their disability. We have also associated with this system a mentoring system to support these students in their professional orientation, or even to welcome them for internships at Sopra Steria.

And within the company?

When we welcome a person with a disability, we offer them tailor-made support. We are also actively engaged in job retention. As such, we put in place all the equipment necessary to adapt the workstations of our employees with disabilities. This involves a technological aspect, but it is obviously also necessary to associate these actions with raising the awareness of all of our employees.

“We encourage diversity”

Géraldine Semopa, recruitment and disability mission manager at Leboncoin

How would you define a committed business?

It’s a constant job. We signed our first disability charter this year with strong commitments: we want to recruit 45 people with disabilities in three years (Editor’s note: Leboncoin currently employs 1,400 people).

It also happens that, during the confinement period, two employees declared themselves to be disabled. We supported them in putting together their file for the recognition of the quality of disabled worker (RQTH) with a view to adapting their position. We called on the Association for the Management of the Fund for the Integration of Handicapped People (Agefiph) as well as a specialized company. Moreover, I expect other requests at the time of deconfinement.

Is it more a proactive approach than a legal constraint?

Absolutely, because we had the opportunity to measure the benefits. Since the launch of our disability mission in 2018, we have been in this dynamic. Leboncoin has always encouraged diversity, as it promotes the emergence of ideas, creativity and innovation. Different experiences make us evolve faster and more efficiently. We communicate a lot about disability internally and we invite those affected to come forward to prevent their health from deteriorating. One in two people experience a disability in their life. It should no longer be a taboo. However, we let everyone follow their personal journey.

Is it a loyalty factor?

I hope so. As soon as we integrate a new recruit, they participate in our awareness campaigns and may be required to collaborate in our events such as the Duoday day, which allows our employees to coach young people with disabilities. We recruit 200 people per year, so candidates shouldn’t hesitate!

“A company where employees feel good”

Caroline Guillaumin, Director of Human Resources at Société Générale

What levers are your policy for the inclusion of workers with disabilities based on?

We rely on a solid network of more than 400 local contacts. These support the employees concerned on a daily basis, in conjunction with the Handicap mission. Since 2007, it has been carrying out multiple actions to maintain employment, train and raise awareness among teams. By using companies in the adapted sector, for an investment of 7.7 million euros in 2019, Société Générale also helped create 384 jobs and professionalize this sector.

What is the outcome of this approach?

We have recruited 198 people with disabilities over the past three years. More than 6,100 jobs have also been fitted out within the group since 2007. In 2019, the group had 1,400 employees declared disabled. Our employees also have a toll-free number to discuss their situation.

What are the advantages for the company?

Diversity and inclusion are a strategic issue in the service of our raison d’être: to build together, with our clients, a sustainable future by providing responsible and innovative financial solutions. Inclusion is the key to becoming successful, but also responsible and open to the world. We want to be a company where employees feel good, like the diversity of the society in which we operate.

“Workstation adjustments”

Magali Munoz, Director of Coordinated Services for Quality of Worklife at Manpower

How has Manpower’s commitment to inclusion evolved?

We made a commitment from the adoption of the law on disability, in 2005, by an agreement with the Association for the management of the fund for the integration of disabled people (Agefiph), then, from 2010, with the signature two agreements (permanent employees, temporary workers), on all the points requested by the legislator. Having signed commitments with trade unions is already a very strong signal. We prove that by living inclusion from the inside, we are in a good position to advise our corporate clients.

How to prioritize inclusion in times of health crisis?

Although the activity of the temp agency sector fell by 75% in one week in March 2020, we continued to place inclusion as a priority. The disability mission worked internally to maintain the quality of working life of disabled employees by adapting teleworking positions when necessary.

How to convince a reluctant company to pursue an inclusion policy?

Having an inclusive policy leads to human openness and offers a reflection on management. Welcoming people from priority neighborhoods, young people or people with disabilities, is proof that by dint of courage, anything is possible. From the moment the company pays attention to its employees so that they can have the feeling of doing their job well, the results are there.

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