Sage Pathways breaks through workplace barriers for people living with disabilities.
By Faith Ramusetheli, Transformation Director, Sage Africa and Middle East.
Sage South Africa implemented a programme called Sage Pathways in 2021 which is part of the global initiative. The objective of the programme is to help underrepresented groups to get into or back to work as part of its wider commitment to create a more fair, inclusive and sustainable world. Sage South Africa recruited 13 interns living with a disability into its customer services and finance operations division in 2021.
One of the challenges that we face in South African organisations is the representation of people living with disabilities. Statistics shows that an estimated 7.5% of the South African population lives with a disability, which spans from physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, or developmental impairments. Less than 1% of people living with a disability are employed, which means about 7% are not employed, and that includes people who are not actively looking for employment.
People living with disabilities are excluded from career opportunities through a range of barriers. These include a physical workplace environment that is not accessible, a lack of assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices, and biased attitudes towards people living with disabilities. Sage Pathways is a programme designed to break through these barriers.
During the Sage Pathways programme, we hosted virtual work readiness sessions to engage people living with disabilities from different communities. The Pathways model delivered a series of work-readiness sessions on interview tips, assessment centre skills, personal branding and returning to work with confidence. In these sessions, Sage also identified potential talent to bring into its business and into other skills development programmes.
Says Ramusetheli, Transformation Director, Sage Africa and Middle East: "We all have some form of disability that limits us from reaching our full potential and we continue to break down barriers to ensure we succeed. Our slogan for the campaign was 'differently abled' and I would like us to start looking at people living with a disability as differently abled, as they can achieve what we can and beyond if we remove the obstacles or barriers ahead of them."
Sage collaborates with specialist recruitment organisations and its Sage Foundation charity partners, to specifically target people living with disabilities for the Pathways event. Here’s what two of the colleagues recruited through the programme had to say:
"I have enjoyed my experience at Sage – my colleagues are extremely welcoming and have shown interest in who I am and where I have come from. Sage’s commitment to supporting people living with disabilities shines through every day at work. It has not only offered me a job, but also provided me with tools and skills to excel in my career." – Kerry Walsh, Communication Specialist, Customer Services intern.
"Sage has offered deep individual engagement and support throughout this journey. I’m really enjoying the opportunity to collaborate with wonderful colleagues in a business that is genuinely committed to inclusion." – Trevor Sephiri, Financial Operations intern.
This programme has been an enormous success for Sage, helping us to reach some amazing but overlooked talent. Through Pathways, we have found some great people like Trevor, who has shown enormous innovation and aptitude in his work. I’m proud to be part of a company with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.
At Sage, we believe a diverse workforce that mirrors our customer base is innovative and productive. Our goal is to break down barriers for all our colleagues and provide them with the tools they need to succeed and reach their full potential, whoever they are and whatever their background. We will keep focusing on creating new pathways for people to succeed over the years to come.