Transformations in business inclusiveness – success stories of business and the state
In the face of a shortage of personnel, attention to inclusive groups, including people of retirement age, people with disabilities, and veterans, is becoming increasingly important. That is why the European Business Association discussed “Barrier-free employment. Business cases and state strategy” to explore in more detail the important topic of inclusiveness and business adaptation to changing labor market conditions.
Tetyana Lomakina, Authorized Advisor to the President of Ukraine on barrier-free issues, emphasized the need for cooperation between the government and businesses to remove barriers faced by people with disabilities in employment. A vivid example of such cooperation is the community “Business Without Barriers,” which already involves 25 Ukrainian companies. In addition, during her speech, Ms. Lomakina mentioned draft law 5344-d, which aims to improve employment opportunities for professionals with disabilities. She called on businesses to propose changes to existing regulations that hinder inclusiveness. The speaker outlined initiatives to improve digital accessibility and communication standards, emphasizing the importance of evidence-based rehabilitation practices. Despite the challenges of war, inclusive practices have their economic benefits.
Maria Abdullina, Head of OLX Work and Services department, presented the results of a study conducted in cooperation with the European Business Association on inclusiveness in the Ukrainian labor market. The study involved both employers and job seekers. It was found that employers work with various inclusive groups, including people aged 45-60, women with young children, students, and others. Despite this, there are still stereotypes and perceived problems with labor productivity, a lack of adapted infrastructure, and discrimination based on gender and marital status. As for job seekers, they expect government support for employers, including tax benefits and financial assistance, to encourage inclusiveness. At the same time, large enterprises have better access to government support programs for hiring inclusive groups than small businesses. The issue of employment of combat veterans was also studied, where there is a clear desire of employers to receive a special training program and psychological support from the state to encourage the hiring of veterans. At the same time, 39% of respondents do not know whether the state provides decent employment conditions for people with the status of combatants, which means that there is a great need to give this topic more publicity. A detailed presentation of the survey results is available here.
Natalia Abramova, Advisor to the CEO of DTEK Energy and Head of the “Veterans” Project, spoke about the company’s efforts to support veterans returning to work after serving in the Armed Forces. In particular, DTEK Energy has a comprehensive program that includes psychological, legal, medical, and professional support for veterans. Ms. Abramova highlighted the challenges faced by veterans during their reintegration into the workforce and shared insights gained during focus groups and communication with veterans. In addition, the speaker spoke about the company’s initiative to attract more women to traditionally male positions, such as underground miners, and the changes that have been made to accommodate them. She acknowledged the financial costs associated with these programs but emphasized their positive impact on employees and the company’s commitment to supporting veterans and promoting diversity and inclusion.
Olga Bezpalko, Head of the Social Policy Department of JSC “Ukrzaliznytsia,” addressed various aspects of inclusivity, focusing in particular on Ukrzaliznytsia’s (UZ) initiatives to increase accessibility and support for veterans. She recognized the need for training, practice, and habit formation to change mental barriers and promote inclusion. Ms. Bezpalko also emphasized the importance of terminology and communication in creating an inclusive environment and sharing insights from employee feedback. In addition, the speaker spoke about the company’s efforts to improve accessibility at train stations and trains, including the development of a barrier-free travel map. The public can be involved in cooperation with UZ to effectively address accessibility issues.
Iryna Haluzinska, head of the “Praktyka” project at Veteran Hub, shared insights on working with veterans and their integration into the workforce. The speaker encouraged the creation of a unified veterans’ policy at the state level to direct efforts and solve problems. Ms. Haluzinska discussed the various needs of veterans after returning to civilian life, including systematic, long-term physical, and emotional support from companies, involving veterans in decision-making processes, and gaining support for initiatives from management. Ms. Haluzinska also drew attention to the concerns and fears veterans may have about returning to work and the importance of creating a favorable environment in the team.
We thank the speakers for their insights into inclusive practices, the role of the state in this transformation process, and business cases that will serve as vivid examples for potential employees and businesses.
We are grateful to OLX Work for the partnership in this event!