Integrated Reporting and Assurance Services (IRAS) in partnership with the National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) have recognised the Netcare Group as a leading employer of persons with disabilities (PwD).
The IRAS presented the award to Netcare for having the highest rate of PwDs employed among JSE listed companies exceeding 10 000 staff members, according to this year’s annual Sustainability Data Transparency Index (SDTI) research report.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to highlight the significant contribution to our business made daily by our 777 colleagues who are persons with disabilities, representing 4.03% of our total workforce,” says Sanjay Khoosal, Netcare’s head of people development and employment equity.
The capabilities demonstrated throughout our Group operations each day, including those of 282 hardworking nurses actively caring for patients, are confronting misinformed stereotypes about PwDs throughout our operations,” adds Zimasa Sotshongaye, Netcare’s general manager of transformation, enterprise and supplier development.
Sotshongaye and Khoosal accepted the IRAS award on behalf of Netcare at an event held at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Illovo, Johannesburg, on Wednesday, 3 August 2022. Netcare was identified for the award based on the IRAS’s finding that Netcare has the highest PwD workforce rate for JSE listed companies with more than 10 000 employees.
“We believe that the real significance lies not only in the numbers of PwD individuals who are directly employed with Netcare, but rather in challenging deeply entrenched stereotypes and assumptions about people with disabilities that still unfortunately persist in society. Too often, prejudiced ways of thinking still form the basis of exclusionary practices and policies that create barriers to PwDs’ full participation in many areas of life,” Sotshongaye says.
“As an organisation that upholds the ethos that all South Africans have the right to earn a living and to contribute meaningfully towards society and their own livelihood, Netcare believes that we all have a collective responsibility to actively dismantle the barriers to people achieving their rights,” Khoosal adds.
“Netcare’s intentional approach to achieving 4% PwDs representation within the workforce has been championed by our chief executive officer, Dr Richard Friedland, who set the agenda for ambitious PwDs empowerment goals and a radical shift in mindset,” adds Dr Nceba Ndzwayiba, Netcare’s Group Director, Human Resources and Transformation.
“In 2008, we undertook an introspective study reflecting that at the time Netcare had only 60 persons with disabilities employed, representing a mere 0.31% of the workforce. We subsequently conducted a study aimed at understanding the internal and external barriers, leading to the implementation of various structured interventions which have been fully embraced by the business.
“We became more aware as an organisation and set tangible targets for each business unit within Netcare to address these gaps to become more inclusive of all who remain on the periphery of our economy, notably PwDs.”
Netcare implemented various targeted strategies under the banner of the Sinako initiative, meaning ‘We Can’ in Xhosa, as an umbrella theme for the Group’s multipronged disability mainstreaming efforts. In 2012 the Sinako Programme was launched, offering structured internships, learnerships and experiential learning opportunities to facilitate the development of skills and working experience in key fields for high potential individuals.
“In the short term, our objective is to achieve 4.3% representation for PwDs across the Netcare Group and progress this to 8% over time, however it is not a question of chasing numbers but rather of making a lasting difference to how society in general and employers in particular perceive PwDs and the contribution they make.”
This year, we have recruited an additional 50 youth with disabilities for a NQF4 learnership programme in Business Administration and further opportunities for career development and gainful employment upon successful completion of the vocational programme. To apply for the learnership please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In accepting this award, we would also like to challenge corporate South Africa to do their part towards developing more inclusive working environments and, in doing so, help to address high levels of unemployment facing our country,” Khoosal says.
“Together, we can achieve so much more to ensure PwDs are not denied the right to earn a living, reaffirming their independence, dignity and rightful place in society.”