On International Day of People with Disabilities, (3 December) Siemens UK today announced it has signed up to Disability Confident, the government-led scheme set up to help employers make the most of the opportunities provided by employing people with disabilities. A prominent champion for diversity in the workplace the UK arm of the business has joined the rest of the Siemens Group, which employs 293,000 employees worldwide, as signatories of the programme. Siemens will commit globally to challenging the attitudes and understanding of disabilities while helping employees, regardless of background, to realise their potential.
Harriet Padina, Diversity and Inclusion Community Manager at Siemens UK said: “This is a proud moment for Siemens as we reach this important milestone. It’s apt that we can announce this today as for a long time, Siemens has both recognised and understood the benefits diverse employees offer. Internationally, we are working on a collective effort to adopt inclusive recruitment processes, provide accessible environments and listen to the voices of our employees. As we grow and learn with the initiative, we plan to share the best ideas and strategies to encourage the right kind of behaviours and attitudes towards disability. As employers, we want to build an inclusive workplace, where everyone’s contribution is valued. We want to create equal opportunity for our diverse workforce to reflect their different skills, abilities and ideas.“
Disability Confident is a government-led scheme set up to help employers make the most of the opportunities provided by employing disabled people. The scheme helps businesses to understand the benefits of gaining access to the widest pool of talent, hiring staff who are skilled, dedicated, hard-working and improving employee morale through the practice of fairness and equality. To date over 18,000 organisations have joined Disability Confident.
Discussing the theme for 2020’s International Day of People with Disabilities, Justin Kelly, Director of Communications and Business Development at Siemens plc said: “This year’s focus ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’ is about being aware of disabilities that are not always apparent; such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, autism and dyslexia or long-term health conditions. Education, empathy and building a more tolerant culture and environment will change some of the perceptions we have and open doors for many talented individuals. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable and confident at their place of work as well as being afforded the same chances to realise their ambitions.”
Over the years Siemens has continually innovated its processes to make work more inclusive, winning awards for those initiatives. Digitalisation of apps, assistance systems, robotics, software and hardware are providing new opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Tooling has been made universal and easier-to-use across manufacturing sites. Digital transcription and speech technologies have liberated people with sight and hearing difficulties.
Kelly said: “We have worked with organisations such as Aspierations to review our selection processes, for example our assessment centres and gamification selection tools. This has helped to identify where we might be unconsciously creating inequality for autistic candidates and losing out on their exceptional skills.”
On the lessons learned from having diverse workforces and designing solutions, Kelly added: “We have found that by surveying the views of individuals who have overcome personal challenges or face difficulties daily, we can sometimes obtain unique perspectives on problems. A partially-sighted person views the world very differently to someone with perfect vision; an autistic person may have enhanced observational skills or attention to detail which someone without autism doesn’t have. These unusual and deeper insights have helped us build better solutions that are accessible by all sections of society.”