World’s richest man hiring ‘differently abled’

SPYBITS (The Philippine Star) - October 9, 2014 - 12:00am

The world’s richest individual, Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim, has launched a global campaign called “I’m in to hire” that is challenging businesses all over the globe to include people with disabilities (PWDs) in their workforce. Slim, whose net worth according to Forbes is estimated at $82.1 billion, believes that it is important for “people with different abilities” (he refuses to use the word “disability”) to get involved and be integrated in society, and that it should not be just companies that should do that, but governments as well.

Slim’s call was seconded by non-profit organization Best Buddies International founder Anthony Kennedy Shriver (nephew of JFK and son of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver) who pointed out the business benefits of hiring a diverse workforce that includes people with intellectual disabilities who are very good with office work. They could work in the mail room, they could be delivery personnel, data encoders or office receptionists, Shriver said, explaining that the problem has been misperception about the capability and competence of PWDs, plus the fact that people often look at them as charity cases.

A report by the Institute for Corporate Productivity showed that employees with disabilities are highly motivated, dependable, have a high productivity and attendance rate, and that their presence tends to improve efficiency among their co-workers. Slim, who employs over 170,000 workers across the US, Latin America and the Caribbean for his Mexico City-based telecoms business America Movil, says those he employed in his call centers are very dedicated and are good for company morale. Corporate America has to realize that it makes good economic sense to invest in people with disabilities because they will help with the bottom line, Shriver added. 

Not many are aware that October happens to be the National Disability Employment Awareness Month in the US, a campaign meant to educate people about disability employment issues and at the same time spread awareness about the contribution of workers with disabilities to business. According to a study conducted by the Toronto-based BMO Financial Group, almost 40 percent of small business owners have started hiring people with disabilities (PWD). Majority of these business owners also agree that diversity in the workplace is an asset and helps reduce the stigma (and wrong myths) attached to PWDs.

In Kansas City, a regulation issued in March dictates that federal contractors and subcontractors are required to meet a seven-percent hiring standard for every job category in the company, or for the entire work force if a company has less than 100 workers. Companies are now trying to match qualified PWDs with the right jobs – a difficult task for many, but something that they believe is “the right thing to do.”

In the Philippines, there are several companies with programs involving PWDs, among them IT firms, factories and malls like the SM Group that are doing their part by employing the “differently abled” as janitors, supermarket baggers and therapists in wellness centers.

No ‘straight path’ in China

Despite the efforts of Chinese President Xi Jinping to clean up the ranks and rid government of bad eggs, corruption continues to be a major issue that involves not only low level officials, but also those high up in the Party, state and military hierarchies. A big number of Chinese also believe that the cleanup is mostly cosmetic in nature because corruption has become deeply embedded in the system, with (guilty) officials protecting each other in classic observance of a “united we stand, divided we fall” kind of philosophy.

Perhaps in a bid to show just how serious the government is in weeding out corruption and stop the abuse of power by officials, some 162,000 “phantom” workers (ghost employees) who were still receiving salaries even after leaving their posts were delisted from central and provincial government payrolls as well as state-controlled financial companies and universities. 

According to the People’s Daily, the biggest number of “casualties” came from Hebei province with 55,000 still getting paid even though they did not have positions.  Many of those ghost employees were actually relatives and children of government officials, the report noted. In fact, the former head of the National Development and Reform Commission was accused of getting his son a ghost job at a company in exchange for securing approvals for projects.

Bush vs. Clinton Part 2

It looks like a Bush versus Clinton race for the 2016 US presidential elections is looming, with speculations fueled by the playful quip of former president George W. Bush that his brother, Jeb Bush, is “weighing his options.” Although such names as Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mitt Romney and Chris Christie have been raised, many believe that the strongest Republican contender who could take on the Democratic candidate – presumably Hillary Clinton – would be the former Florida governor.

Aside from having an established “brand name,” Bush can whip up a campaign staff at a moment’s notice and get the Republican donor base solid behind him. Several Democrats who have interacted with Bush came out impressed and admitted openness to supporting his candidacy – probably an offshoot of the downtrend in President Barack Obama’s popularity (with some Democrats distancing themselves from the President).

It would be interesting to see if the 2016 US presidential race will be a case of “The economy, stupid” again considering the improved unemployment rate that went down to less than 6 percent  (at 5.9 percent) for the first time since 2008. In any case, Wall Street’s three favorite candidates – in order of preference – are Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton.



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