Durban - The Netcare Group was recently given the award for being a leading employer of people with disabilities (PwDs).
Netcare was identified for the award based on a finding by Integrated Reporting and Assurance Services that the company has the highest PwD workforce rate among JSE-listed companies with more than 10 000 employees.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to highlight the significant contribution to our business made daily by our 777 colleagues who are persons with disabilities, representing 4.03% of our total workforce,” said Sanjay Khoosal, Netcare’s head of people development and employment equity.
Zimasa Sotshongaye, the company’s general manager of transformation, enterprise and supplier development added:
“The capabilities demonstrated throughout our group operations each day, including those of 282 hard working nurses actively caring for patients, are confronting misinformed stereotypes about PwDs throughout our operations.”
“We believe that the real significance lies not only in the numbers of PwD individuals who are directly employed with Netcare, but rather in challenging deeply entrenched stereotypes and assumptions about people with disabilities that still unfortunately persist in society.
“Too often, prejudiced ways of thinking still form the basis of exclusionary practices and policies that create barriers to PwDs’ full participation in many areas of life,” said Sotshongaye.
“As an organisation that upholds the ethos that all South Africans have the right to earn a living and to contribute meaningfully towards society and their own livelihood, Netcare believes that we all have a collective responsibility to actively dismantle the barriers to people achieving their rights,” Khoosal added.
Netcare said it had in 2008 undertaken an introspective study reflecting that at the time the group only employed 60 people with disabilities, representing a mere 0.31% of the workforce.
“We subsequently conducted a study aimed at understanding the internal and external barriers, leading to the implementation of various structured interventions which have been fully embraced by the business,” said Dr Nceba Ndzwayiba, Netcare’s group director for human resources and transformation.
Netcare said it had implemented various targeted strategies under the banner of the “Sinako” initiative, which means “We can” in isiXhosa.
In 2012 the Sinako Programme was launched, offering structured internships, learnerships and experiential learning opportunities to facilitate the development of skills and working experience in key fields for high potential individuals.
This year Netcare said it recruited an additional 50 youth with disabilities for an NQF4 learnership programme in business administration. There are further opportunities for career development and gainful employment upon successful completion of the vocational programme.
“In accepting this award, we would also like to challenge corporate South Africa to do their part towards developing more inclusive working environments and, in doing so, help to address high levels of unemployment facing our country,” Khoosal said.