About 15% of the world’s population experiences some form of disability. That is about a billion remarkable people who we can learn from and partner with. In celebration of Flex’s journey to not only serve but empower our employees with disabilities, we are showcasing some of our progress and next milestones.
Disability awareness: Think globally, act locally
Over the years, Flex has built a solid foundation to recruit, hire and empower people with disabilities (PwD). Like many organizations, we strive to build an inclusive and diverse workforce and this agenda is reinforced by Flex’s alignment to the targets of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework. Chief among these is access to employment opportunities for everyone, including those with disabilities. As of November 2020, we proudly employ more than 1,100 PwD globally and look to grow this number over the coming years. Most of these teammates are building great products on the manufacturing line at our facilities, while some are knowledge workers.
From the resources we’ve invested to enable our teammates with disabilities to the passionate employees who volunteer their time to advocate for this group, ours is a journey of purpose. And ultimately, it’s the decisions and actions at each site that speak to Flex’s intentionality to champion and truly include our colleagues and friends with disabilities.
Many of our colleagues have diverse needs, which must be addressed to provide a safe and productive working environment. We continuously enhance our facilities to make them more inclusive and accessible. We ensure that essential equipment is in place, such as flashing lights and other visual signals for team members, who are hearing impaired, when alarms sound on production lines. We provide specially equipped buses to transport those with mobility needs, and we’ve removed barriers at our onsite dormitories to enable more seamless access. By partnering with the leaders and advocates in our communities, our teams hosted job fairs and engaged in targeted outreach to connect with talent who may be overlooked.
Watch this short video to sample a small slice of our PwD story.
A disability inclusion journey evolving towards maturity
Throughout the years, we’ve drawn attention and recognition for our efforts in the community of people with disabilities. More recently, we won numerous awards for empowering employees with disabilities to do their best work. For example, we received the Inclusive Enterprise award for creating a more barrier-free work environment and providing employees with specific assistant tools for assembly work at our Zhuhai, China facility. We initiated a formal program in 2010 at our Zhuhai campus and others across China, marking our first conscious steps to expand employment opportunities for people of all abilities; some of this program’s inaugural employees remain on staff today.
And in October 2020, our China site drew local media coverage for contributing to their communities, dovetailing with Flex’s global PwD Awareness Weeks efforts.
What’s ahead for disability inclusion in the workplace?
Though we have made significant progress as a people with disabilities employer, there are always opportunities to do more. Our future plans will see us plant a stake in the ground to substantiate our efforts. To that end, we will intensify our focus to continue hiring people with disabilities as well as improve the skills and confidence-building training for this group.
For our non-PwD employees, our inclusiveness mandate includes raising their awareness about disabilities. Beyond communication and discrimination training, we aim to enhance our educational resources to help them better understand etiquette and other coworking best practices.
In October 2019, we extended the duration of our People with Disabilities Awareness Week from one week to two to pack in more programming and participation. We hosted a global webinar with involvement from multiple executive sponsors, and for fresh perspectives, we called in outside experts like Debra Ruh, CEO of Ruh Global IMPACT and Jessica Rafuse, Director of Strategic Partnerships & Policy for Accessibility at Microsoft.
A world of possibilities for employees with disabilities
On International Day of People with Disabilities and beyond we at Flex remain committed to improving this community’s access to opportunities and resources. Meanwhile, we join our friends and partners around the world in celebrating this incredible group for their contributions to our workplaces and communities.