A workforce accessible to all is not just right, it’s good business

Hamish Mackenzie is responsible for ensuring more than 30 websites across ANZ, including internet banking and other mobile applications, as well as all internal software, are accessibility compliant.

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The program Mackenzie takes charge of ensures the development of software and applications are aligned to ANZ’s Inclusion and Accessibility Plan (IAP), a key document of policy which among other requirements is designed so programs are compatible with screen reading software, are fully keyboard accessible and colour contrast meets low vision standards.

His role is a key one for ANZ and one he is personally engaged in: Mackenzie is vision impaired and comes to work with a guide dog. His message is a simple one. “We need to be disability confident,” he says – a message more and more research demonstrates is true for the corporate world well beyond ANZ.

Mackenzie, whose title is Global Technology Accessibility Manager at ANZ, started with the bank in 2007 as a Project Manager in Infrastructure. Within eight months he had the opportunity to become Global Accessibility Manager – his vision impairment giving the role added significance for him.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports 18 per cent of Australia’s population and 15 per cent of its working age population have a disability.

The business case reaches beyond staff with disabilities because a company that demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion has a noticeable uplift in overall staff engagement and productivity, according to a report by Deloitte - ‘Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup? A new recipe to improve business performance’.

The report found that there was a correlation between perception of a company’s inclusion and the overall performance of all staff. “If just 10 per cent more employees feel included, the company will increase work attendance by almost one day per year per employee,” the report said.

Mackenzie works with Sue Jeffery, General Manager ANZ Direct and chair of ANZ’s Accessibility and Inclusion Plan Steering Committee, on helping ANZ achieve its IAP commitments.

“ANZ’s objective is to be ‘disability confident’, to ensure that our staff are able to support people with disabilities and to be making hiring decisions based on what people are able to do,” Jeffery tells BlueNotes.

“ANZ aspires to create an environment to allow people to be the best they can be, this might include needing to make adjustments to the workplace, adjustments such as special software or flexibility in working hours.”

Mackenzie says ANZ’s commitment to ensure the workplace is “as good for staff as possible” was important for him. The bank has provided screen reading software as well as ensuring accessibility for his Seeing Eye dog to ensure the working environment meets his needs.

“It is important not just to be tokenistic,” Jeffery says. That means ensuring the future direction of ANZ’s IAP focuses on a small number of areas with commitments in Australia, New Zealand and in operating hubs across the Asia Pacific network. “Whilst the plan is not yet fully global, the intention is to make it so,” she says.

ANZ’s IAP was established in 2008 as part of a legal obligation but since then ANZ has decided to go beyond these requirements – “that is our point of differentiation,” Jeffery says. ”We’ve got an aspiration to be leading in this space and are continually learning to be better.”

ANZ’s commitments focus on delivering on employment targets but there is a business case for ensuring a company has an inclusive workforce too.

“A good staff mix reflects the make-up of customers in the communities that we operate in,” Jeffery says.

Further to this, the “business case for having an inclusive workforce is that you can tap into a talent pool that has traditionally been avoided,” Jeffery says.

People with disabilities or those who care for others with disabilities have insight into a wider variety of customer needs: they can be better placed to deal with customers with disabilities or those customers caring for people with disabilities.

From the perspective of the bottom line, people with disabilities are an untapped talent. “It is essential that we start looking at talent in a different way, identifying different roles across all of the geographies in which we operate where a person with a disability would be able to work to the best of their abilities,” Jeffery says.

According to the Australian Network on Disability (AND) the benefits for business are that “attracting, recruiting and retaining employees with a disability can provide a significant and often overlooked opportunity for business, and a solution to Australia’s skills crisis.”

“Employers benefit by increasing the size of the talent pool from which they recruit, making it easier to find the best person for the job. Other benefits of employing people with a disability include low absenteeism and employee turnover, low incidence of workplace injury, and improved employee loyalty, which all help to create cost effective businesses” AND states.

Inclusion goes beyond hiring policy. “To feel highly included a person would not only say that they are treated fairly and respectfully, but that their unique value is known and appreciated, and they belong to the group,” the Deloitte report found.

That’s not to say it is not a challenge for companies to institute effective policies, no matter how desirable they are.

A major challenge is to be able to recruit people with disabilities through mainstream recruitment channels. “It is essential that these mainstream recruiters are aware that ANZ is a disability confident employer,” Jeffery says.

These challenges can become a hurdle with finding candidates, yet as Jeffery emphasises “we want candidates”.

“People with disabilities are still capable of doing a good job, there might simply be a need to make adjustments to the workplace to enable these people to be as productive as they can be,” she says.

Also challenging when establishing an inclusive workforce is that measurement can be a problem; it can be difficult to obtain data as often individuals can be hesitant to disclose this information to their employers or recruiters.

Each year ANZ conduct a staff engagement survey as a way of understanding and responding to the feedback and insights of its workforce globally. Findings relating to demographics are entirely anonymous and are not included on any line manager reports. Disability, along with cultural background, sexual orientation, relationship status, flexible working and caring responsibilities are all key focal points.

To deliver on their ambitions ANZ has made various commitments to achieve its goals. The bank takes part in multiple programs and partners with organisations to assist people with disabilities in finding employment and retaining a position.

ANZ worked with IPA Recruitment on the establishment of the Job Ready recruitment program. The program sources candidates who have been out of work for a prolonged period of time and mentors on interview skills, CV writing and candidates also obtain customer service certification.

As part of its commitment to the Job Ready program ANZ provides mentors and training is conducted at ANZ headquarters.

ANZ has ongoing commitments with the ‘Stepping Into’ internship program and the Pace mentoring program.

“It is essential to be confident, be upfront and be honest,” Jeffery says. So an integral component in ANZ achieving its targets is to ensure that hiring managers are trained and are confident with making the decision to hire an individual with a disability.

Jennifer Farmer - BlueNotes Editorial Producer.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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