Safaricom has announced that it will increase the number of staff living with disabilities to five per cent by March 2021, up from the current 1.7 per cent, as part of its strategic business objectives.
The mobile service provider announced its commitment during the inaugural Global Disability Summit held in London, United Kingdom, where it joined civil society representatives, governments and other corporate organisations in calls for greater inclusivity of people living with disabilities within the private and public sectors.
As part of its Diversity and Inclusion programme introduced in 2016, Safaricom has so far employed 96 members of staff with various disabilities including visual and hearing impairments, paraplegics, and people living with albinism and dwarfism.
“Our intentional focus on Diversity and Inclusion has seen us actively reach out to minorities such as people with disabilities in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth, and SDG 10 on Reduced Inequalities,” Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore stated.
[caption caption="Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore"][/caption]
According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 15 per cent of the world’s population is comprised of people with various disabilities, while Global Disability Rights Now estimates that people with disabilities account for 10 per cent of Kenya’s population, which translates to about 4.44 million people.
People with disabilities across the world have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty compared to those without disabilities. This is attributed to barriers in accessing services, including health, education, employment, and transport as well as information.
“For Safaricom, inclusivity goes beyond hiring people with disabilities to fill a quota. It’s about giving them the same opportunities for career growth, leveling the playing field by catering to various needs such as access to our facilities, specialised medical insurance cover, transport to and from work, and running a robust Diversity and Inclusion programme where everybody feels respected, valued, and welcome in the workplace,” Collymore added.
In December 2017, Safaricom showcased its commitment to greater inclusion by launching the M-PESA Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service. The service allows visually impaired customers to query their M-PESA balances without having to share their PIN numbers for assistance, thereby protecting customers’ personal information and dignity while using the money transfer and payments service.
“We recognise that as a business, we must be reflective of the communities we serve. Part of that involves bringing down barriers to essential services by making sure that everybody can access these services, regardless of their disabilities,” Collymore further explained.
The Global Disability Summit is co-hosted by the UK Government, International Disability Alliance and Government of Kenya, and brings together over 700 delegates from governments, donors, private sector organisations, charities and organisations of persons with disabilities.
Its objective is to tackle the barriers that prevent people living with disabilities from reaching their full potential and to develop strategic partnerships that will look at how to drive inclusive economic development for people with disabilities through core business rather than corporate social responsibility.
[caption caption="Safaricom attendant Pauline Shalimo assisting William Kisumo at the Nakuru shop in 2016"][/caption]
A key outcome of the Summit will be the creation of a three-year partnership between Safaricom, the Government of Kenya, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, (DFID) and a select group of private sector players.
This partnership will focus on the economic empowerment of people with disabilities by maximising their engagement as employees, service users and consumers, offering scope to build markets and stimulating sustainable and inclusive growth.
“We like to say that it’s not enough to be diverse; it’s inclusivity that really drives the opportunities. Diversity is being invited to the ball. Inclusivity is being asked to dance,” Collymore concluded.
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