Attitudinal change leads to meaningful reform

It’s well known that I’m against quotas. They’re discriminatory, paternalistic and humiliating. And they don’t work! Quite simply, quotas don’t change the number of ‘minority’ people participating in the workforce. Read here to learn more about this seemingly radical view.

But if you’re against quotas, you’ve got to be in favour of something else. So, what does work?

Attitudinal change leads to meaningful reform.

Not quotas. Not subsidies. Not condescending ‘othering’. Rather, reaching people at a level where they’re able to see that not only is change necessary but in their interests as well.

Like most others, I support those things I believe in. I believe in the capacity of people with disability to work alongside their non-disabled peers in everyday workplaces. Fortunately, many other people also believe this. Employers, teachers, parents and people with disability themselves believe in the enormous capacity of the untapped field of people with disability.

We need to spread the word!

Currently community attitudes towards inclusion are well ahead of governments of all stripes and all levels. One exception is the NSW Department of Family and Community Services who are keen to employ people with disability. Their policies reflect their human decency. They demonstrate both a positive attitude and practical application. However, overall, the world lacks leadership when it comes to changing attitudes about the capacity of people with disability to work in meaningful careers that contribute to society.

The current attitudes of charity and/or compulsory inclusion don’t work. As a person with disability, I don’t need sympathy and condescension. I don’t need to be ‘allowed for’. This only reinforces the sense of ‘the other’.

You only need to be charitable if you don’t understand the inherent value of the product itself. In this case, ‘the product’ is people with disability.

What works?

Support. Support early and often until the worker feels comfortable in the workplace completing their tasks to their employer’s expectations. Support so that person becomes a fully valued member of the team, not someone who snuck in on a quota.

 - Martin Wren