“Rejection after rejection lowered my self-esteem and gave me the depression I never had before. I never knew that being rejected from job applications could cause so much trauma and emotional pain.”
Billious Boquila, Virtual Professional on Virtualahan
Rejection - it is something we constantly try to avoid experiencing. But for a person with a disability, it is a more regular occurrence, especially when it comes to work and career. Often times, being labeled a PWD closes doors faster than they can open them, causing an even harder fight on top of their disabilities and creating roadblocks that stop them from moving forward.
Despite a large number of employment opportunities becoming available, most people still struggle to find a job. But having to explain to a recruiter that you have medical condition makes it even more difficult.
“Finding a job is hard enough, but finding one when you have a medical condition makes it all the more challenging.”
Russia Egmalis, Lupus Warrior
More often than not, PWDs are met with explanations of how most companies are not “PWD ready”. Companies are reluctant to take in PWDs due to the fear that they cannot properly accommodate them - no matter how qualified for the job in terms of skills or experience they may be.
Billious Boquila, a virtual professional on Virtualahan talks about how he’s experienced rejection over 30 times because companies are not “PWD ready” yet. “Lines like: ‘I’m sorry we could not give you the facilities you need’; ‘We are not PWD ready-yet’; and, ‘You are really good but we don’t know if we could accommodate you’ become repetitive banging cymbals in my head. Over and over I’d hear these rejecting lines from (one) job after another.”
But with the goal of progress, there are efforts that push for better inclusion that ensures PWDs have more opportunities to join the workforce and provides systems to get companies ready to accommodate PWDs into their organizations.
“As we forge onward in building the nation better and stronger, we must take the necessary steps to ensure that we are building an inclusive society where no sector is left behind from the gains of development”
Senator Bam Aquino
A lot of people are unaware that there is already a Bill created for PWDs - the Republic Act 7277, known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons. Its purpose is to provide rehabilitation, self-development, and self-reliance for disabled persons and their integration into the mainstream of society. It grants rights and privileges for disabled persons on multiple principles.
But the recent Senate Bill 1249, written by Senator Bam Aquino, is looking to amend Section 5 of the Act in order to increase the number of PWDs in the workplace for both the government and the private sector.
Section 5. Equal Opportunity for Employment. — No disable person shall be denied access to opportunities for suitable employment.
In the explanatory note of the Bill, Aquino writes, “This bill seeks to guarantee the inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the workforce and provide commensurate compensation, benefits, and employment terms for PWDs as any other qualified employees.”
The bill mandates government offices to ensure that 2% of their employees are made up of PWDs while private organizations need to have a workforce where 1% of employees are PWDs.
Once enacted into law, multiple government agencies will come together to write the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the fulfillment of the proposed law.
Moving Forward, Further
Getting PWDs into the workplace is one thing, but getting companies ready for this is another. But there are special organizations that exist that provide support for those looking to employ PWDs into their company.
Virtualahan is a tech social enterprise that creates an ecosystem for PWDs and other disadvantaged communities where they can thrive, all while helping businesses grow. They train PWDs with relevant skills they need to join the modern workforce, provide employment support, and provide virtual/online jobs for them.
Other services they offer are geared towards getting companies ready for PWD integration, such as on-going consultations to improve an organization’s diversity and inclusion. They also run what they call a “Readiness Audit and Design Sprint”, where they assess a companies infrastructure, technology, processes, and culture. Through the assessment, they are able to provide a tailor-made workshop and create an action plan focused on employing PWDs into the company.
With visions and intentions of companies such as Virtualahan, together with the proposed amendments to our laws for PWDs, we are well underway into building a stronger, more inclusive community where everyone grows and thrives.