ILR School

Disability in the Workplace in China: Current Realities and Ways Forward (Roundtable Summary Report)

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According to official statistics, there are an estimated 85 million persons living with a disability in China. Due to stigma, discrimination, and a lack of successful government strategies, they are economically and socially marginalized, with limited access to education, training programs, and work opportunities. The quota system currently in place in is not effective in enabling labor market participation for persons with disabilities in China. In 2015, a mere 0.3 percent of China’s total urban employment consisted of persons with a disability–a far cry from the mandated 1.5 percent. Further analysis and subsequent discussions with employers suggest that the quota system rarely encourages real employment opportunities. Instead, employers tend to view hiring persons with disabilities as part of regulatory compliance or charitable programs rather than as an element of their talent acquisition strategies. To move the disability discussion from compliance to competitive advantage, The Conference Board China Center collaborated with the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability (YTI) at Cornell University’s ILR School to convene a groundbreaking roundtable on September 19, 2018 in Beijing. The event was part of a broader research collaboration between The Conference Board China Center and YTI to increase understanding of workforce inclusion of persons with disabilities in China, and to identify practical ways forward for employers. A dozen large multinational companies and NGOs gathered in person to share current approaches and challenges to hiring persons with a disability in China, including recruitment practices, accessibility and accommodation in the workplace and training and skills development. Participants also shared experiences with partnerships, on-the-job training, and retention programs. Senior managers attending included leaders from human resources, operations, corporate communications and government relations. Key learnings from the workshop’s expert presentations and group discussions are summarized.

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disability; international; china; employment; hiring; recruiting; accessibility; human resources


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