"Working in a workplace, where different people each with their unique skills and strengths support the team, inspires everyone and helps to achieve results in an effective way."
Employers have numerous difficulties with involving people with disabilities into employment opportunities. I think that at the first stage to eliminate difficulties and barriers, employers represented by all the team members, including human resources personnel, need to have basic knowledge about disability. Because over the years we develop wrong perceptions, prejudices and stereotypes about disability. This prevents us from making proper decisions and conclusions about hiring people with disabilities at the workplaces. People with disabilities are different like all other people.
Upon having a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of disability, we can start thinking about how we can adjust our employment policies according to the needs of people and make our workplaces inclusive. Hiring people with disabilities sometimes don’t even require any changes at the workplaces and most of the times it requires only small adjustments. Almost always not only a person with disability but everyone benefits from these changes. This can be flexibility in working hours, ramps at the entrances, well developed emergency exit plans, relevant signs, additional computer programs, small infrastructure changes and etc.
Working in a workplace where different people each with his/her unique skills and strenghts supports the team, inspires everyone and helps to achieve results in an effective way. We have created a great learning environment at the ADA University, where differences are accepted and everyone enjoys equal rights and opportunities. When people feel that they are valued, they do all the best that they can do. And this doesn’t only affect individuals, but the whole teamwork.
I call employers to make positive discrimination towards people with disabilities and give them small work or internship opportunities. Because people with disabilities are the most isolated group in the society and we all have our part of responsibility in this as individuals as well as the whole society.
- Elnur Eyvazov, Head of inclusive education and equal opportunities department
"In a workplace, where you are given all the opportunities for learning and studying, loyalty will always be high."
Zinyat Valiyeva was born in 1974 in Shamkir city. She has got her disability due to the stress she faced in her family life in 1991. Zinyat was preparing to enter medical university to become a doctor and at some point she thought that all her dreams were gone away. But some time later, despite all the challenges and barriers, she decides to continue her life struggle and starts economic studies at the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy.
In 1997 she becomes one of the founders of the Disabled Women Society and currently works as a head of the inspection comission at the same organisation as well as deputy head of the inspection comission at the Paralympics Comittee. In 1996 she joined paraolympics games as an archer and attended London and Rio-De Janeiro paralympic games in 2012 and 2016. She is a winner of various international tournaments and aims to be one of the winners of the Tokyo paralympics games.
She started her work experience at Royal Express LLC in 2003 and worked there untill 2012 as an Operator. She continued her work at the ADA University as a Specialist in the Security Department and currently works as a Specialist at the Student Admissions and Registration Department. She says that working with students is the main motivation of her work.
Experience shows that people with disabilities stay at their jobs longer than people without disabilities. This can be explained by limited job opportunities for people with disabilities in the labour market. “People with disabilities are usually more motivated to stay longer at their jobs than their non-disabled colleagues” – says Zinyat, and adds that if employers have equal and fair approach to everyone, including people with disabilites, they will be keen to stay longer and turn into devoted and skillful members of the team.
“At a workplace, where you are given all the opportunities for learning and studying, loyalty will always be high. And students and employees, who study and work in a diverse and inclusive environment will become open-minded leaders in future valuing cooperation and support in the team. We are creating a sample model of an inclusive workplace and inclusive values at the ADA University. I’m sure that only together we can take confident steps towards inclusive society.” – says Zinyat.
Zinyat is married and has a son. Her employment helped her to be able to support her family. “I can now give all the decisions in my life myself. People sometimes meet me with questions like “Whom did you come with?”, “Are you alone?” when I visit different places. But I can see that at the ADA University an approach towards disability is totally different - I guess this is a result of diverse working environment where everyone is equal and people with disabilities work as fully fledged employees. I don’t face discrimination at work. I think that the more people will become aware of disability, and about human rights-based approach to disability (social model of disability), the sooner the barriers in the society will be eliminated. Employers can play an important role in this process – the more people with disabilities will work and be independent and empowered, the more our society will become disability-confident and inclusive.” – continues Zinyat.
“When people with disabilities are deprived of education and employment opportunities, they become dependent on their family members all life long. When I didn’t work, my family members used to support me all the time and I just couldn’t do anything without their support. This affected their lives negatively as well. But when I started to work I became independent and met all my needs myself without any support from anyone. Now I even try to support my family and friends myself and even others who are in need of support. By hiring people with disabilities employers not only support one person, but also all of their close family members.
I’ve to say that employment helped me to achieve all the successes in my life. For that I’m grateful to all the people who trusted me and especially Royal Express LLC and ADA University.
Unfortunately, people see disability before they see the person and they make immediate decision about that person and his/her skills based on disability. Despite all the successes in my life, I still face negative attitudes and discrimination in the society. However, this doesn’t discourage me anymore, because my life mission is higher than that. I believe that everyone can succeed in this life and I continue and want to be a better role model for all women with disabilites in Azerbaijan,” – Zinyat concludes.
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This story was produced within the "Addressing the rights and well-being of women with disabilities and veterans of the Karabakh conflict" project initiated by the First Vice President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva. This project, which is jointly implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), aims to support the government's efforts to ensure the rights and well-being of vulnerable people.