Zain Group, a leading mobile telecom innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, announces the launch of its far-sighted Disability Inclusion initiative, WE ABLE, which is set to position Zain as being Disability Inclusive by 2022.
Supporting the program is Zain’s entry as a signatory into the International Labor Organization (ILO) Global Business and Disability Network Charter, where as a member of the Network, Zain is committing to a groupwide plan. Zain’s emphasis will be the development of an implementation plan that will act as a framework to guide the integration of people with disability into the company and include them in all facets of Zain’s policies and culture.
According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), the unemployment rate in the MENA region for people with disabilities is as high as 86% for females and 66% for males. This high unemployment rate indicated to Zain’s management the requirement to establish a clear framework to address the deficiency, while also highlighting the massive opportunity for the company to recruit people with disabilities to be part of Zain’s 6,000 talented workforce.
WE ABLE is the brainchild of Zain Vice-Chairman and Group CEO, Bader Al-Kharafi, complementing the company’s Gender Diversity and Inclusion program. The immediate aim of the Disability Inclusion initiative is to achieve the following:
- Increase the number of people who suffer with disabilities within the Zain workforce by 2022
- Ensure all training programs are Disability Inclusive by 2022
- Guarantee that accessibility across all Zain touchpoints are Disability Inclusive by 2022
- Identify innovative and assistive technologies enabling more people with disabilities to join the company and succeed.
Commenting on the new initiative, Bader Al-Kharafi said, “Zain’s influential role in society means we must maintain our pioneering outlook with respect to creating positive change in the workplace and in all other areas of our activities. We are proud to stand as an example for other corporates to follow and the implementation of the WE ABLE initiative reflects our commitment to develop and implement a sustainable Disability Inclusion program. We believe it is high time that the contributions that people with disabilities are able to make in our workforces and in society in general be recognized, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to raise awareness in this area through our words and more importantly through our actions.”
Al-Kharafi continued, “Zain has decided to position the introduction and development of disability issues within the workplace as a priority task that is part of our Diversification & Inclusion vision, and we will work with organizations and partners who are experts in this field to further strengthen this new strategy.”
Zain’s Disability Inclusion program will adopt commitments 5, 6, 9 and 10 from the ILO Global Business and Disability Network Charter as detailed below:
5. Open up routes to economic empowerment and financial inclusion so that persons with disabilities can enjoy decent work and achieve financial independence. This will mean creating more and better jobs, providing social protection, ensuring the necessary skills training, making workplaces accessible and hiring people with disabilities.
6. Revolutionize the availability and affordability of appropriate assistive technology, including digital, which will enable persons with disabilities to fully participate and contribute to society.
9. Gather and use better data and evidence to understand and address the scale, and nature, of challenges faced by persons with disabilities, using tested tools including the Washington Group Disability Question Sets.
10. Hold ourselves and others to account for the promises we have made here today. We agree that our individual commitments will be reviewed, assessed and published on a regular basis, with the results published online.
Maryam Saif, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Zain Group said, “We have reflected on this issue of Disability Inclusion for some time and concluded that as an organization we need to further develop and promote this area in the workplace. We are delighted to launch this initiative that builds on Zain’s Diversity and Inclusion achievements and activities.”
Saif continued, “We have spent the first two quarters of this year preparing for our approach to Disability Inclusion in our region. With collective research, feedback and advice from people with disabilities and representative organizations, we are implementing our strategy, with an emphasis on the development of a framework that will guide the integration of people with disabilities into our company policies and culture.”
Many countries across the MENA region have minimum quotas on the percentage of employees with disabilities, and Zain is committed to fulfilling and exceeding current quotas as well as investing in the training and further development of affected individuals.