Stock image for illustrative purposes only.
School of Concepts offers an award-winning curriculum for children, specialising in phonics and play-based learning. Believing in maximising potential, the early literacy provider also empowers persons with disabilities by equipping them with useful and relevant skills for the pre-school sector. At School of Concepts, persons with physical disabilities and persons with intellectual disabilities are hired as Classroom Assistants at its learning centres.
With its commitment to disability inclusion, the organisation has applied for SG Enable’s Enabling Mark, the first national-level accreditation framework that benchmarks and recognises organisations for their best practices in disability-inclusive employment.
Ms Mint Lim, the founder and CEO of School of Concepts, shared that she applied for the Enabling Mark to affirm the organisation’s commitment to disability-inclusive hiring. “We believe it will help our stakeholders better understand School of Concepts as a social enterprise and as an inclusive school. We also wanted to share the lessons we’ve learnt (about inclusive hiring) and give thanks and recognition to the support we’ve received,” she said.
Here are some ways in which the organisation has embraced disability inclusion in the workplace.
Establishing clear leadership direction and commitment
As its leader, Ms Lim has made clear the organisation would be inclusive in its hiring practices. She has the support of the organisation’s board of directors and shareholders to champion disability-inclusive hiring as a long-term business strategy.
“All employees are hired based on merit,” said Ms Lim. “For instance, we identify our interns’ strengths and keep them informed about job opportunities so that if they’re keen, they may apply and go through the same interview process like everyone else.”
“For us, the basis of inclusiveness is one that is strength-based. We include people of various strengths and skills in our team,” she said.
Developing a systematic training schedule
At School of Concepts, when a job applicant with disability passes the interview stage, the organisation sets up a training schedule for the candidate for the next three to six months. During this time, the candidate becomes an intern, reports to work daily and is given a training allowance. A job coach or a caregiver may be present to guide the intern throughout the training.
With the support of co-workers, interns with disabilities are able to work independently, with opportunities to convert to full-time employment. To date, all interns with disabilities have qualified for full-time employment.
Ensuring fair and progressive employment
School of Concepts adopts an equitable compensation system, where all employees are remunerated based on their job scope and work performance. Employees with disabilities receive the same salary as other Classroom Assistants, and are offered the same flexi-benefits, which include time-off and flexible working hours.
Their performance is also reviewed annually, with industry benchmarks used for pay equity across similar positions, and there is room for them to receive new training or be given a bigger job scope. Currently, employees with disabilities who handle food have undergone training in a food and basic hygiene course.
Class notes from the School of Concepts
Over time, the organisation has learnt a few things about disability-inclusive hiring, including reaping the benefits of extending fair and just opportunities. “We’ve seen how enabling them to be treated equitably and fairly has equipped (employees with disabilities) with the confidence to change their initial perception of their own potential,” said Ms Lim.
For companies looking to hire persons with disabilities, Ms Lim shared, “I would recommend that you first identify the roles and the strengths of the persons with disabilities who are looking for work. I would also strongly recommend the organisation to invest in (disability awareness) training for employees who do not have experience working with persons with disabilities. This will help them to be aligned with the organisation’s values and purpose when it comes to inclusive hiring.”
She added, “Our colleagues with disabilities contribute very positively, and we are proud of them. With that, we hope the public will view them fairly, focus on their strengths and abilities, and eventually give them a chance because these colleagues of mine are some of the most genuine and kindest people I know.”
Get accredited for your disability inclusion efforts with the Enabling Mark! Apply for the Enabling Mark today, as well as the other Enabling Mark Awards that recognise management staff and co-workers who are committed to disability-inclusive employment, and exemplary employees with disabilities. Winners will be recognised at the inaugural Enabling Mark Awards Ceremony later this year.
Applications for the Enabling Mark Awards are open until 23 April 2021. Visit enablingmark.sg to learn more.