Equal opportunities for disabled employees
For immediate release
30 November 2016
Business leads the way in providing equal opportunities for disabled employees
Trying to find an employer that sees abilities not disabilities was a challenge for Billy Bishop and Morgan Pellew - until they applied to Genera Limited’s Napier Port branch.
The bio-security company took out top honours in the Attitude ACC Employers Award category at the national Attitude Awards at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland on Tuesday in recognition of its outstanding employment practices.
The Attitude Awards celebrate the achievements of disabled people and those with chronic health issues and recognise those employers that give people with disabilities the chance to use their skills in gainful employment.
One in every six New Zealanders of working age has a disability yet only 61 percent are in employment.
In 2013, there were 228,000 disabled people not in work – more than 61,000 were actively looking and 161,000 said they wanted to work if a job was available.
Grant Cleland, Chief Executive of Workbridge, an employment agency for disabled New Zealanders, said an uplift in employers taking a more open-minded approach to their recruitment could deliver great benefits for their businesses and New Zealand society.
“Bringing the employment rates of disabled people level with non-disabled rates would see an additional 88,000 Kiwis in work and over $1b of benefits annually to New Zealand by reducing benefit spending and increasing tax revenues,” said Cleland.
Genera’s Operations Manager for the Napier Port Branch, Gavin Smales, said the award was great to receive but hiring good staff that are willing to learn and turn up and do the job simply made good business sense. Genera was also a finalist for the award in 2015.
Genera works with Workbridge Hawke’s Bay to look for great candidates and he recommends the approach to other businesses.
“We don’t change anything – we can’t afford to. But we can put people where we can use their strengths,” he said.
Mr Bishop said he has worked as a general operator for Genera for over two years and feels that he’s found his niche after years of general labouring - as well as a peace of mind that makes his Tourette’s more manageable.
“I’m a 100 percent happier in this job than I was – I’d been in situations where I’d never been given a chance because people weren’t open minded and I was looking for a job for quite a while. With this I’ve got a cool bunch of workmates and bosses – I’ve been really fortunate and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else,” said Mr Bishop.
Mr Pellew has been working for Genera for four months as night watchman and now labourer. He worked in heavy industries for over 30 years with a prosthesis for his right hand after losing it to the wrist at 23, but found after work dried up in his previous job and he was laid off, his age and disability were barriers to employment.
“I knew what I could do, I just needed the chance to show someone but I kept on finding myself number two or three on the list.”
Mr Pellew went to Workbridge for assistance and they put him in touch with Genera.
“I doubt I would’ve got the job without them. I love working outside, it’s a good group of guys and management are top notch – I couldn’t work for a better place.”
In the last three years Workbridge has helped over 10,000 New Zealanders find employment.
“Employers like Genera and all the finalists in the Attitude Awards show that recognizing the skills and abilities of a large number of people that are eager to work can deliver great benefits for your business and society,” said Mr Cleland.