Recognising people with diverse needs in the workplace

Abbott’s vascular facility in Clonmel recently hosted the second ever Kanchi Network event, a forum whereby local employers and organisations are invited to network and explore best practise in the inclusion of people with diverse needs into the workplace.

Abbott’s vascular facility in Clonmel recently hosted the second ever Kanchi Network event, a forum whereby local employers and organisations are invited to network and explore best practise in the inclusion of people with diverse needs into the workplace.

More than 100 delegates attended from local businesses in the area including representatives from Boston Scientific, MSD, Aviva, Dell and Citi.

Abbott is one of the founding members of the Kanchi Network. According to Claire O’Callaghan, Kanchi Network Manager, “This is a business membership network whose purpose is to create a leadership group of companies in Ireland that will revolutionise the relationship between business and disability, so that people with disabilities will be recognised and valued as consumers, talent, suppliers and members of the community.”

Ger Cronin, Divisional Vice President at Abbott, outlined the company’s approach to celebrating diversity and disability within the workplace. “Abbott focuses on people’s abilities, not their disabilities. We are committed to celebrating disability equality because we believe that diversity is a key contributor to business success. As a health care company, innovation is central to business success and having a diversity of ideas, perspectives and experience is critical to finding innovative new solutions.

In 2005 we established a steering committee to concentrate on the area of disability, and how Abbott could attract and retain people with diverse needs. This was an expansion of the substantial work already undertaken in the area of diversity and inclusion in Ireland and around the world. 2007 saw the establishment of the ABLE Team, a cross-functional group dedicated to the creation of an inclusive environment in which all employees are recognised for the benefits they bring to the organisation.

Since then the team has developed and delivered a range of initiatives through the ABLE programme, including the provision of disability awareness training for all staff, appointing a senior manager to champion diversity on site, implementing environmental changes to make the workplace fully accessible and fostering strong partnerships with external bodies, all of which has had an exceptionally positive impact on our workforce,” he said.

In 2009 Abbott received a gradireland Award for being an “Employer of Choice for Graduates with Disabilities” and in 2010 Abbott was named Overall Winner in the Private Sector at the O2 Ability Awards for demonstrating best practise in including people with disabilities in their business. To date, partnership with the Willing, Able and Mentoring (WAM) programme has resulted in the appointment of 15 graduates to permanent positions within the company.

“A key focus for Abbott is helping people realise their full potential and our ABLE programme is centred on attracting, retaining and developing people with disabilities in the workplace. Our approach to diversity and inclusion is reflected in our recruitment and selection processes, as all our advertising now states that ‘Abbott Values Diversity and is an Equal Opportunities Employer’. We have also implemented a Retention Policy, which positively supports employees with acquired disabilities in an effort to retain their skill sets in the workplace. This is an essential element of our overall effort in this area, as the majority of people with disabilities acquire them during their working life,” said Margaret Morrissey, Country HR Director, Abbott Ireland.

“The ABLE programme goals are intrinsically aligned to the company’s business strategy, are embedded in the company’s strategic plan and are championed by senior management. Celebrating diversity has been a very rewarding journey for Abbott – one which we look forward to progressing. We will continue to adapt the ABLE programme to foster a culture of support and inclusion for people with diverse needs,” she stated.