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Disabilities

New disability employment pilot programme for certain businesses

The Department of Social Services initiated the launch of the Career Pathways Pilot programme, aiming to enhance job opportunities and career growth for individuals with disabilities.

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The programme aims to surpass the limitations of entry-level positions.
The programme was launched for business such as Kmart and Target.
The Career Pathways Pilot is uniquely designed and led by individuals with disabilities.

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In November, the Department of Social Services initiated the launch of the Career Pathways Pilot programme, aiming to enhance job opportunities and career growth for individuals with disabilities. This 18-month program, supported by the Australian Network on Disability and key members of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), including Woolworths Group, Coles Group, Compass Group, and Kmart & Target Australia, seeks to address the prevalent issue of underrepresentation of people with disabilities in leadership roles and on company boards.

According to Amber O’Shea, the head of strategy at the Australian Network on Disability, the Career Pathways Pilot is uniquely designed and led by individuals with disabilities. It focuses on challenging and altering the biases of middle managers and senior leaders, who often perceive people with disabilities as suitable only for entry-level positions.

Kmart and Target, integral members of the programme, expressed their commitment to ensuring that their workforce reflects the diversity of the community. Tristram Gray, Chief People and Capability Officer at Kmart , emphasised the significance of meaningful employment for people with disabilities within their diversity and inclusion strategy.

Gray highlighted that the program aims to surpass the limitations of entry-level positions, focusing on providing equitable access to opportunities, resources, and, importantly, career pathways for individuals with disabilities within the business. The initiative involves collaboration with employees who have lived experiences of disabilities, allowing them to actively participate in co-design workshops to formulate an inclusive employment strategy.

There has been specific initiatives within Kmart Group, such as the introduction of ‘quiet spaces’ in stores and wheelchair-accessible registers, showcasing a commitment to creating environments that cater to diverse needs.

The Pilot programme, currently in its early stages, involves Kmart and Target working closely with the Australian Network on Disability to develop a holistic and sustainable strategy that can be applied across their extensive network of 450 stores and 55,000 team members.

Gray emphasised the importance of partnerships, citing collaborations with organisations such as the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Down Syndrome Australia and New Zealand, and Get Skilled Access. The goal is to create a comprehensive approach to career advancement for individuals with disabilities, including partnerships with key organisations supporting disability inclusion.

Describing the vision for the pilot programme, Gray stressed the objective of witnessing team members with disabilities advance meaningfully in their careers, reaching senior technical and leadership roles within the organisation. Fostering a culture of inclusion, Kmart and Target are committed to providing equal access to opportunities, resources, and products for team members and customers, irrespective of their background or experiences.

Gray also highlighted specific initiatives within Kmart Group, such as the introduction of ‘quiet spaces’ in stores and wheelchair-accessible registers, showcasing a commitment to creating environments that cater to diverse needs. He underscored the importance of involving team members from various backgrounds in decision-making processes, encouraging leaders to seek diverse perspectives and experiences to develop effective and inclusive solutions.

In conclusion, Gray emphasised the critical role of executive sponsorship in driving real and scalable changes in diversity and inclusion within an organisation, stressing that such advocacy is essential for making systemic changes.

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