A disability may generally be defined as a condition which may restrict a person’s mental, sensory or mobility functions.
According to the Disability Discrimination Act of Australia (DDA) their disability or challenge can be in one or more of the following areas:
People with disabilities are often marginalised by society and are affected by discrimination from education through to work opportunities. They are often excluded or offered services or support that is not of an equal nature. This leads to high rates of unemployment of around 80% in South Africa and in the rest of the developing world. It also leads to social exclusion.
These people have a right to be included in all aspects of society, in order that schools, workplaces and society generally are truly reflective of the diversity of people. This clearly benefits them but also makes society “richer” and more meaningful through an appreciation of the other – a fundamental building block of Ubuntu.
At Evolve we believe we can help non-profits and corporates achieve their goals and have a positive and meaningful impact on society. We achieve this by fully understanding the situation that pertains and looking for creative ways to enhance the inclusive profile of our clients, whilst never compromising on quality and productivity.
The integration of business principles into a social purpose organisation has the advantage of sustainability in a dynamic culture.
It allows these organisations to be less dependent on traditional funding and more independent. They can combine the best practice of social impact and business. This pathway in the field of disability is innovative and also creates a “real world” environment that affords people with disabilities the opportunity to journey towards full inclusion in society through their experiences and the building of personal relationships.
Successful social enterprises with a focus on disability often concentrate on appropriate training and support towards the goal of an inclusive workforce. This requires the development of innovative business models – an extensive experience area of Evolve and its team.
The benefits of inclusion of people with disabilities through transformation of existing organisations, as well as new innovative social enterprises, are significant. They include:
In Greek mythology, Mentor was the older and wiser friend to whom Ulysses entrusted the care of his kingdom when he went off to save Troy. Troy’s infant son, Telemachus, had Mentor alongside of him for more than 20 years as a teacher and wise counsel.
Mentoring programmes take this concept of an older, wiser, and more experienced supporter and formalise it. Many organisations are recognising the benefit of mentoring for their staff, and such programmes are also being used to further the diversity agenda.
Diversity mentoring has mainly focused on issues around gender and ethnicity to date – disability mentoring, our particular interest here at Evolve, is a new field that we are excited to be part of.
All mentoring programmes have a chosen focus. Some focus on getting individuals into employment, others on career development and others on social issues or supporting people with a specific challenge.
Mentoring programmes match a mentor with a mentee. Mentors are typically individuals who have more experience in a particular area or an issue, than the mentees with whom they are matched with.
Mentoring programmes can either run for a specific length of time, or they can be ongoing. They can arrange face-to-face meetings for mentors and mentees and/or they can take place online.
There are a number of different models of mentoring programmes and within each model there are numerous variations depending on the specific environment and needs of the individuals participating in the programme.
Knowledge and experience are shared between mentors and mentees. The mentor and mentor are able bring a new understanding of issues they face to each other.
OPENING UP NEW NETWORKS
The mentor is able to give the mentee access to their own networks they have developed, which otherwise might have not been accessible to the mentee.
Mentoring builds the confidence of the mentee in the area the mentoring is focused on. It also teaches mentors new transferable skills that can be used in leading and managing people.
‘PAY IT FORWARD’
Many mentors have had the support of an older, wiser mentor at different points in their life. Becoming a mentor themselves is a great way to give back to the next generation.
Mentoring programmes give organisations the opportunity to put their diversity policies and procedures into practice by giving people the opportunity to be mentored that would not have had access to such support previously.