Page last updated at 08:18 Asia/Manila, Thursday, 05 November 2015 PH
A very noble corporate social responsibility (CSR) measure is for business enterprises to go out of their way to hire persons with disabilities (PWD). While residing in Spain in 2007 to 2008, I learned of socially responsible corporations that employ workers with physical or mental handicaps. Since any honest human work contributes significantly to the perfection and sanctification of every human being, providing work for PWDs is one of the highest forms of charity or love for neighbor. With more than a million employees to date, the Philippine IT-BPO industry can excel in this humanitarian work. There are already call centers and non-voice knowledge process outsourcing companies that are increasingly willing to hire PWDs. These physically or mentally challenged individuals could be some of the most loyal workers, contributing to the reduction of attrition rates in an industry which can be plagued very high turnover of personnel.
The Center for Research and Communication, where I am the Research Director, is very active in assisting IT-BPO enterprises in addressing the challenge of promoting the integral human development of their workers. Together with the University of Asia and the Pacific, CRC is promoting a variety of courses for workers in the industry to help upgrade both their human excellence and professional skills. I am glad that I received a letter from the co-founders of Call Center-Philippines asking for assistance in calling the attention of the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) about the plight of PWDs working for the BPO industry. Since I believe very much in the great importance of this industry to Philippine development and the role that PWDs can play in stabilizing the workforce of the same sector, I am devoting space in my column to seconding their request to the Honorable Carmen Reyes-Zubiaga, Executive Director of the National Council on Disability Affairs.
The letter coming from the officers of Call Center-Philippines highlights the tribulations and travails of PWD’s working for the BPO industry. I quote from the letter: “…going to and from BPO centers is a big struggle since the infrastructures to make their trip easier are not there. Going to office and returning home safely is a big obstacle course for PWDs working in BPOs…We respectfully ask your help to coordinate with local government units in areas with big concentration of BPO offices to push for the full implementation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 344 (An Act to Enhance the Mobility of Disabled Persons by Requiring Bridges, Institutions, Establishments and Public Utilities and Other Devices) and other pertinent laws…We beseech you to coordinate with officials in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Bacolod, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Clark, Dagupan, Davao, Tacloban, Dumaguete, Lipa, Iloilo, Naga, Iriga, Iligan, Olongapo, Urdaneta and other places dotted with BPO centers for them to establish a PWD-friendly environment in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
Local government officials should provide for facilities like unobstructed sidewalks, railings, wheelchair-accessible entrances, 1.2-meter-wide ramps; and PWD exits and bathrooms. On their part, the IT-BPO companies should be made aware of the provisions of the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (Republic Act 7277). The multiplier effects of this sector on such commercial establishments as restaurants, supermarkets, movie houses, etc. should warrant the mandated discounts and priority access to be afforded to PWDs by law. The NCDA has been pivotal in improving the lives of Filipinos with disabilities. It should give special attention to the IT-BPO sector that is expected to generate some $25 billion in earnings and 1.3 million in jobs by 2016. With an estimated 1.4 million Filipinos living with disability, the IT-BPO industry can offer much to those among them who aspire to earn the above-average salaries in this booming sector. Among the influential people who can be expected to help the PWDs working in the IT-BPO industry is Presidential candidate Mar Roxas, who was instrumental in the establishment of this sector at the beginning of the new millennium. For comments, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.