There is a broad spectrum of Diversity and Inclusion – age, gender, sexual orientation, marital or family status, disability, race and religious or political beliefs. As a well-recognized, major conglomerate, Swire commits to covering the areas above and advocating for equal opportunities across the group.
We spoke to Sonal Chugani, Group Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Swire, to learn more about their D&I strategy and how they advocate for disability inclusion in the workplace.
How did your organization begin the D&I journey in Hong Kong? And why did you decide to participate in the Thriving Grass Program?
Gender inclusion was where we began our D&I journey in 2013 and we focused mainly on advocating for the advancement of female employees within the organization. However, we later realized there was a need for a more holistic D&I program that encompassed a wider range of diversity areas. In 2018, we created the Swire D&I team and in 2019 we launched our D&I Strategic Framework, which is a five-year plan that outlines how we will achieve our D&I goals. It comprises of six pillars that cover how we engage our employees, attract and manage talent, build an inclusive culture, measure success and share our story externally.
Our D&I strategy touches all aspects of the organization; therefore, we need to engage several stakeholders across the business to advance our D&I agenda. It’s this broad and deep engagement that will ensure our success. We have a strong governance structure with a Steering Committee of senior leaders across the group that advocate for more inclusive practices within their operating companies. We as a D&I team are held accountable by them. We also have a dedicated network of D&I champions across the group who run our employee resource groups and serve on local D&I committees.
This is the first time we have participated in the Thriving Grass Program. We joined this program as we wanted to promote more disability hiring in Swire. But instead of just telling people to do it, we thought we could lead by example by doing it ourselves first. We see disability inclusion as vital to the success of our overall D&I program, so we hope to bring disability hiring into our mainstream recruitment practices.
What are the takeaways during the process?
Programs like Thriving Grass allow corporates to challenge many beliefs and misconceptions that people generally have about people with disabilities. People with disabilities offer so many strengths and skills that we may ordinarily not see when we focus on their disability instead of their abilities. So I encourage companies to hire people with disabilities to experience the benefit this kind of diversity can add to your team. And I hope managers can see the value they bring to the organization in the same way we have.
One key takeaway from this experience is that we need to make asking for accommodations a regular practice during our recruitment process. It shows that we care about what candidates need and makes people with disabilities feel comfortable during the hiring process.
There is never a perfect time or way to approach disability hiring, so my advice is to just go for it. You may not get it 100% right the first time, but the Thriving Grass Program is a great opportunity to try and learn.
What’s your feedback on CareER and the intern after the Jockey Club Collaborative Project for Inclusive Employment CareER Thriving Grass Career Development Program (Thriving Grass Program)? Will there be any next steps?