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The month of March, South Africa celebrates Human Rights on the 21st March, and continue to commemorate Human Rights throughout the month of March.  Human Rights are rights everyone should simply have because we are human. Human Rights Day in South Africa is historically linked with 21 March 1960, and the events of Sharpeville. On that day 69 people died and 180 were wounded when police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered in protest against the Pass laws. This day marked an affirmation by ordinary people, rising in unison to proclaim their rights.

However, in the last two decades or so, there has been a paradigm shift, with disability emerging as a human rights issue at international and domestic levels. Disability is therefore one of the seven focus areas identified by the South African Human Rights Commission within its mandate to promote, protect, and monitor the realisation of Human Rights in South Africa.

As we celebrate Human Rights month , its important to know the following:

  • Approximately five (5) million South Africans are disabled
  • Less than 1% of all people employed in this country are those with disabilities, and this is across all employment levels (EE Report 2017-2018)

We need to acknowledge that persons with disabilities face disproportionately high levels of unemployment, are employed in low status jobs, or receive lower than average remuneration and thus their rights to work and being included aren’t considered and thus their human rights as a group.

How do we address that without building businesses that create an inclusive environment? Qunu Staffing was established in 2016, as an Enterprise Development Initiative of Workforce.  Our focus has been on providing Disability Solutions in the workplace, and with the aim on helping companies create workplace opportunities for People with Disabilities, and more importantly an enabling environment to ensure that People with Disabilities are able to contribute sustainably in the mainstream economy.

Our journey in this space is based on answering the following questions:

  • Are companies finding it relevant to include People with Disabilities in their Human Capital plans (employ, train and develop)?
  • How do we make the inclusion of People with Disabilities relevant in mainstream economy?

Qunu Staffing has developed a Disability Solutions offering to the market which provide companies with the tools/solution necessary to employ, train and develop People with  Disabilities in the workplace. The solution offers a comprehensive approach by:

  • Consulting on policies of integrating disabled people in the workplace, ensure that workplace provides accessibility for all
  • Provide Awareness Programmes for the decision makers and to the rest of the employees
  • Learning and Development
  • Employment and Retention of People with Disabilites

The past two years has seen the market open to incorporating People with Disabilities in the workplace, despite a low growth economy. Employing people with disabilities is not only the right thing to do, but is also a good thing to do, or vice versa. However, not everyone does what is right and good and so the government stepped in in the form of, inter alia, the Constitution, the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 (EE Act) and the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act 53 of 2003 (BBBEE Act).This legislation encourages certain businesses to employ people who have disabilities and sets targets for businesses for the employment of black people with disabilities. Businesses that comply are rewarded with broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) points.

The legislation is a driver in companies doing the right thing and Qunu has seen companies doubling numbers of differently abled workers in their workplace – we are currently recruiting for a National company in the Financial Services ( Short-term Insurance) Sector which had a total of 31 People with Disability in the workforce, and now are taking that number to 60 people in total. Skills spend is also encouraging as part of the overall B-BBEE plans of organisations. Qunu is gearing up provide that service in the industry, but more importantly to be a company of purpose – “ Historically, maximising corporate profits and growing shareholder value sat at the centre of most companies’ strategic objectives. Today this goals sits alongside another strategic imperative: being a company of purpose.” Tom Finke, Chairman and CEO of Barings.

As we celebrate Human Rights Month, it is important to remind ourselves that Human Rights is for everyone who is human, and that includes the People with Disabilities. We cannot be a society that leaves about 5% of our population relying on charity in society simply because we don’t create workplace environments that are inclusive.

“Thus shall we live, because we will have created a society which recognises that all people are born equal, with each entitled in equal measure to life, liberty, prosperity, human rights and good governance”

Nelson Mandela.

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