The Australian Disability Network, in partnership with the Business Council of Australia (BCA) and the Department of Social Services has launched a new disability employment pilot aimed at increasing employment and improving career advancement opportunities for people with disability.
The Career Pathways Pilot 2023-2025 is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services and will be run by Australian Disability Network and BCA members Coles Group, Compass Group Australia, Kmart & Target Australia, and Woolworths Group.
Following the Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra in 2022, Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth announced funding to develop the Career Pathways Pilot.
“Boosting disability employment shouldn’t just be about any job, it should provide pathways to career progression too, and we know that disability-inclusive businesses grow profits more than four times faster than their peers.
“This program will allow employers to support people with disability advance their careers and become future leaders, as well as build disability-inclusive workplace cultures and demonstrate safe and supportive working environments,” Minister Rishworth said.
Australian Disability Network’s Head of Strategy Amber O’Shea said the program will increase and develop the career progression of employees with disability out of entry level roles and into leadership positions.
“There is an over-representation of people with disability in entry level roles and a lack of career advancement opportunities for people with disability into leadership positions, as well as a lack of representation of people with disability on company boards.
“The Career Pathways Pilot is entirely co-designed and led by people with disability and focuses on career progression which challenges middle managers’ and senior leaders’ pre-existing biases and perceptions that people with disability are only suited to entry level roles.
“Through the 18-month pilot we will work with some of Australia’s leading employers to create opportunities that recognise the depth of experience and skills of people with disability that have been overlooked in the past,” Ms O’Shea said.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Bran Black said the Business Council and its members are committed to helping ensure all Australians reach their full potential and share in the opportunities and prosperity of our nation.
“This initiative will lead to increased, sustainable, and measurable improvements in in employment and career advancement outcomes for people with disability.
“We need a concerted effort to drive change from job design through to recruitment and move from entry level jobs to advanced and executive roles.
“If Australia moved into the top eight OECD countries for employing people with disability, we could see an additional $50 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2050.”
Employers and employees with disability will both benefit from the program which supports employees with disability while giving managers the skills and resources to recruit and retain talented people with disability.
Martin Smithson, General Manager: Meat, Deli and Seafood, and the chair of Coles’ Accessibility Steering Committee said disability inclusion has been an integral part of the Coles Group strategy for years.
“We are delighted to have grown employment and workforce representation, with 7.6% of team members identifying as people with disability.
“Coles is proud to have many leaders in our team who live with disability. Often disability employment is stereotyped as an ‘entry level’ opportunity. We are committed to continuously supporting the development of our talent and providing them with tools to progress their careers at Coles.
“We are excited to join the Australian Disability Network, the Department of Social Services and the Business Council of Australia to support this pilot program, which will significantly support and impact the lives and careers of Coles team members who live with disability.”
Vanessa Martin, General Manager of Diversity & Inclusion, Compass Group Australia said Compass is committed to developing a dynamic and diverse workforce reflective of the communities that it serves.
“We are removing unintended barriers throughout the employment cycle and we’re passionate about providing a solid foundation and career pathway to support our people who identify as living with disability.
“With this co-design program we want to review and evaluate the best formula, approach and model to support our employees who identify as living with disability in progressing their career aspirations.
“Compass Group was proud to be awarded the MAX National Disability Employer of the Year Award in 2022 but we know there is so much more to do. We’re passionate about sharing our learnings and partnering with other industry leaders to build accessible, equitable, inclusive, and safe workplaces for our people who identify as living with disability.
“Compass Group Australia’s collaboration with DSS, BCA and Australian Disability Network will help us expand our ability and empower our workforce.” Ms Martin said.
Tristram Gray – Chief People & Capability Officer – Kmart & Target Australia said meaningful inclusivity is a business imperative for Australian retailers.
“Ensuring our team members represent the communities in which we operate is key to Kmart and Target’s workforce strategy, and a huge part of our success as two of Australia’s most iconic retail brands. Inclusivity needs to be about more than just a job.
“We know that with our size and scale of operations we have an opportunity to lead in this area.
“To do that, we need to have strong and productive partnerships in place to ensure we have the right foundations to deliver meaningful employment opportunities, leading to real careers and leadership pathways.”
Woolworths Group Disability Inclusion Lead, Geoff Trappett OAM said the retailer was excited to be participating in the Career Pathways Pilot.
“Our project will work to empower operations managers to make decisions with the true potential of our team members in mind. It’s our responsibility to ensure leaders have the right insights and tools at their disposal to identify these opportunities to foster and promote talent.
“By creating pathways for career progression for people with disabilities, our business can not only benefit from their professional strengths, but also from their insights into how we can create better experiences for our team and customers.
“It’s going to be a fantastic project and we’re very excited by it.”