While gender diversity has been a priority for companies in the region for years, the inclusion of people with disabilities is still a challenge for many. To support the development of an inclusive society, UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a national strategy for empowering people with disabilities earlier this year.
Most companies already have Diversity & Inclusion strategies in place, traditionally focusing on gender diversity. When it comes to including people with disabilities, few private companies have truly moved the needle – primarily because of a lack of awareness on the subject.
Organised by Naseba under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Economy, the Global WIL Economic Forum is a purpose-driven initiative that cumulates into a two-day forum held every year in Dubai. Since its beginning in 2009, the forum works to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion from an economic and business perspective.
Held under the theme of ‘The Butterfly Effect – From Intent to Impact’, this year’s edition focuses on enacting social change through collective action. In line with this vision, a segment will be dedicated to the inclusion of people with disabilities, headlined by Global Inclusion Advocate and President Obama Champion of Change Haben Girma.
Naseba teamed up with the SEDRA Foundation to launch an Inclusive Internship Program, which aims to dispel misconceptions about the contributions of persons with intellectual, cognitive or mental health-related disabilities, provide a tangible example for other organisations to follow and ignite critical conversations around inclusion.
At the heart of a broader awareness campaign are internship placements in key organisations across the UAE. The inaugural internship placement is taking place at Roche Diagnostics Middle East where an intern supports the communications department for a month. The placement includes coaching on disability etiquette for the host team, work readiness workshops for the intern, and the support of an on-the-job coach to ensure clear learning outcomes. SEDRA supports the intern and their family throughout the process.
Changing economies entail greater challenges, in particular for young adults with disabilities. Addressing the specific socio-cultural diversity in the UAE, SEDRA believes in a collaborative process to develop and monitor its programs for an inclusive workplace. “Tripartite partnerships are an evidence-proven concept to involve equally companies, people of determination with their families, as well as SEDRA as the inclusion facilitator. Once started, the navigation of an inclusive project needs all hands on deck and ongoing communication among all parties; which eventually gets one and all meaningfully connected and actively involved. We are much confident that our upcoming Inclusion journey with Roche Diagnostics Middle East and Naseba as the co-pilots will be most exciting and rewarding”, comments Renate Baur-Richter, Program Manager at SEDRA.
“When conducting research with dozens of companies ahead of the WIL Forum, we realised many were truly committed to promoting Diversity & Inclusion, but did not know where to turn to in order to enact their intentions. On the other end of the spectrum, there is a clear lack of visible role models for the disabled community, which can hinder their progression,” explains Charlotte Chedeville, Senior Project Manager at Naseba. “This initiative aims to bridge this gap and inspire the determined youth to pursue their ambitions while exploring innovative inclusion pathways developed for companies.”
As a firm believer of D&I, Roche Diagnostics Middle East, the IVD partner of choice in the region, was keen to embark on this journey from the start. “Bringing together all kinds of talents and ideas under one roof is at the heart of what we do at Roche. That is how we are able to learn together, from each other, and remain at the forefront of innovation. With a culture of positive reinforcement and skill development, we unlock the true potential of our employees and bring out the best in each one. This commitment requires dedication and is best when diversity is not bound to gender, but also encompasses different capabilities, age groups, backgrounds, skill sets, and beyond. We are proud of to provide a platform for determined talents and hope others are inspired to broaden their definitions to include all colors of the spectrum”, concluded Harald Wolf, General Manager of Roche Diagnostics Middle East.
The SEDRA Foundation, Roche and the intern will share their experience at the Global WIL Economic Forum held at the Ritz Carlton DIFC on October 25-26. Until the end of the year, SEDRA and Naseba will host workshops and open round tables to further raise awareness on accessibility and inclusion.
ABOUT NASEBA GLOBAL WIL ECONOMIC FORUM
Endorsed by the UAE Ministry of Economy for the past four years, the 19th Global WIL Economic Forum is bringing together over 500 global business leaders, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, artists and youth to champion diversity as the cornerstone of sustainable economic development.
Held under the theme “The Butterfly Effect – From Intent to Impact”, this edition places a particular focus on enacting social change through collective action. Designed to drive action, the program leverages the experience of regional and international leaders to give attendees a roadmap to further their personal development, and equip organisations with the tools to make a difference.
For more information, please visit www.wilforum.com
ABOUT THE SEDRA FOUNDATION
SEDRA Foundation for inclusion is the Abu Dhabi hub for the most current inclusive research and best practices within a global perspective based on the Human Rights Framework of the Convention on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) assisting the local community emerge by 2030 as a world class sustainable model for an inclusive society removing socio-cultural, economic or political barriers to full and equal participation in all aspects of community life.
SEDRA facilitates inclusion through 5 key program areas: Education, Research, Awareness & Community Support, Family Support and Employment. SEDRA, a non-profit organization act as management consultants for public & private institutions and enablers empowering children, teenagers and adults with disabilities and their families.
For more information, please visit www.sedra.org
ABOUT ROCHE DIAGNOSTICS MIDDLE EAST
Roche have taken the unprecedented move of being the first IVD company to have a Management Centre and a logistics hub in the Middle East. Roche has extended its ownership of the entire supply chain, quality control and customer support all the way into the centre of the region. This base of operations reinforces the commitment to global Roche standards and is driven by a full team of vastly experienced specialists offering a complete portfolio of services.
With this regional empowerment, Roche has moved its leadership and decision-making closer to its customers and distributors. These investments allow Roche Diagnostics Middle East to develop from being a supplier into becoming the preferred IVD partner for its customers.
Roche Diagnostics Middle East offers a complete portfolio of services in 16 countries: UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya and Maldives.
For more information, please visit www.roche-middleeast.com
For inquiries about the Inclusive Internship Program, please contact:
Senior Project Manager