CEO from different organisations pose for a picture during the launch of the network

The Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE) has launched the Uganda Business and Disability Network (UBDN), a forum that will work towards creating inclusive workplaces to cater also for people with disabilities (PWD) in terms of hiring, retention and professional development of persons with PWDs.

The forum was launched by eight founder members of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda, Citi Bank, Vivo Energy Uganda, Nation Media Group, Standard Chartered Bank, Uganda Breweries Limited, Delight Uganda Limited and Graphic systems.

According to the managing director of Coca cola beverages Africa in Uganda, Conrad van Nierkerk, the forum will provide opportunities for employers to develop their confidence on disability inclusion, share experiences and be role models on inclusive employment for persons with disabilities.

“As a Company, we benefit greatly from the skills, experience and commitment of the diverse range of people who work with us. We recognise that that diversity is essential to us being able to best serve our customers and strive to ensure that no one is treated inappropriately or disrespectfully at our workplace. This is aligned with our Values to act with integrity and care for our people,” said Nierkerk.

Employers later sign UBDN charter and committed to benefit from facilitated business-to-business dialogue, annual conferences that present opportunities for learning and networking and become part of a growing reputable global network of multinational companies integrating disability into their organisation cultures, workplaces and strategic business plans.

The secretariat of the UBDN will be hosted by the Federation of Uganda Employers and supported by the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), and resource organisations with technical expertise on disability inclusion such as Light for the World, Sightsavers and ADD International.

The UBDN is closely linked to the Make 12.4 per cent Work Initiative and the Inclusion Works Project. The  Make 12.4 per cent Initiative was launched in May 2018 and brings together a growing platform of companies, livelihood organisations and skills development institutes in their commitment to disability inclusion in economic empowerment initiatives.

It will provide technical support to the UBDN through its network of Disability Inclusion Facilitators. Both Make 12.4 per cent  Work and the Inclusion Works project will work closely with the UBDN in developing joint products and tools to support and guide employers on how to create an inclusive workplace, coordinate work placement opportunities for persons with disabilities, and feed policy development and implementation by sharing experiences through policy briefs and case stories.

“Employing persons with disabilities is not corporate social responsibility hence employers should change their mindset and employment should be given on grounds of ability to perform,”  Annette Nakawunde, the Federation of Uganda Employers Vice Chairperson.