• Hiring persons with mental disability

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    RAYMUND B HABARADAS

    RAYMUND B HABARADAS

    If you were a business owner, would you hire a person with a mental disability? Probably not. One may argue that hiring a qualified employee for a job vacancy is difficult enough. Therefore, why would a business entity hire an individual with limited skills and who would likely require additional supervision because of his or her special condition?

    Indeed, hiring persons with disabilities (PWDs) is not a norm in Philippine companies, especially since we don’t have the equivalent of affirmative-action legislation for PWDs in the country, unlike in the United States or in several European countries. Some companies, however, have started hiring those with physical disabilities (e.g. visually-impaired, hearing-impaired, and physically-impaired), especially if their skills are suited to the requirements of the job. Physically-impaired individuals, for example, won’t have problems performing jobs that require them to work in front of the computer most of the time. However, hiring persons with mental disability (PMDs) brings with it different challenges that might be difficult to overcome.

    Through ‘Project Inclusion’, a research project funded by the Unilab Foundation and undertaken by a multidisciplinary team formed by the DLSU Social Development Research Center (SDRC), I got a chance to see how it is possible for PMDs to be part of a typical workplace. For this study, we found five companies and two government agencies that have accommodated PMDs in the workplace, three of which formally hired the PMDs. The four other companies took in the PMD to accommodate the request of owners or relatives of owners who have a special child.

    Our study shows that the hiring decision largely depends on the following: (a) the business owner’s exposure to exceptional individuals, (b) the business owner’s value system, (c) the nature of business, and (d) the available resources of the business. Clearly, a signal from top management is key to the entry of a PMD in the workplace. In several cases, the individual concerned is a relative of the owner of the business. With a clear leadership mandate, the stage is set for work adjustments to be undertaken by those in charge of managing the business (i.e., if the owners are not directly involved in business operations). Knowing that the individual is related to the owner, regular employees are, therefore, likely to treat the said individual with due respect.

    Equally important is designing the work to fit the special individual’s skills, temperament, and inclination. In most of the cases, they were given tasks that are simple and that allow the concerned individuals to settle into a daily routine. Having a supervisor or co-employee watching over the performance of the PMD also helps in terms of ensuring the quality of work done by the latter.

    Worth highlighting is the fact that managers, supervisors, and co-workers that regularly deal with PMDs develop certain skills (e.g., listening and communication skills, conflict resolution skills, counseling skills) that could be valuable for the organization. The presence of PMDs in the workplace could also result into a more supportive and caring organizational culture that could enhance overall productivity. Naturally, this caring culture makes it easier for persons with disability (whether physical or mental) to adjust in the workplace, if more of them are subsequently hired in the organization.

    Raymund B. Habaradas is an Associate Professor at the Management and Organization Department of De La Salle University, where he teaches Management of Organizationsand Management Research. He welcomes comments at rbhabaradas@yahoo.com.The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.

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    2 Comments

    1. Mang Karpio on

      Such studies should remain as studies only because it will not fly in reality as long as such person with PMD is/are related to the owner of the company. No one with the right mind no pun intended would hire such an individual. US and other countries only hire let’s be specific with PWD but not mental disability. It’s like comparing apples & oranges. Also, you failed to address the levels of mental disability that would warrant such job situation. I mean let’s not give false hopes to their family because I’m sure you yourself wouldn’t hire them even for the simplest job duty in fear that they might hurt someone or themselves. It’s bad enough that in the movies they’re praised & portrayed as an evil genius or insane chemist out to rule the world. Insane criminals are often applauded by normal people since they’re excused from doing anything but evil such as Doctor Evil with Lil me, The Shredder, Darth Vader all said “it feels so good to be so bad” but they’ll have PMD that does not exclude Batman of course. That’s a lot of bologne! In the US and other countries they put specific restrictions and if it’ll cause harm to others or themselves then they’re completely alienated and placed in a home or mental institution. US & other countries has developed with an aid of inplant for individual who has lost their hearing from birth and can now hear. For individual with PMD, let’s wait for a brain transplant to become more successful because it may not happen during our lifetime. Lobotomy has been completely eradicated and scientifically unacceptable. However, for awhile it was their main cure but to their dismay it only ruined everyone hopes and lives. Let’s just keep it in thesis until pigs fly or you start walking on water. Try to tackle something that you & I and every readers would appreciate my associate professor.

    2. butch hirro on

      who is sitting in malacanang right now? were there not rumors that he is mentally incapable? yet he was “hired” by the people to run the country. so, with a year and a half left in office, has he proven us wrong or was the rumor true?