Israel/Myanmar Webinar - "The Business Case for Employing Persons with Disabilities"
Good afternoon. Good day. Perfect. We will wait one-and-a-half more minutes just to let everybody go in, we see the numbers rising.
Come on. We want number 70 again, please. One more, one more. We have two more in the waiting room. Perfect. Okay then. We're all ready? Yeah.
Perfect. I would like to welcome everybody. We are very excited to be here with all of you today. My name is Michal Rimon and I always introduce myself as the proud CEO of Access Israel.
I'm always stressing that's my good luck charm. I always open conferences by saying that I'm proud of my organization, the projects we do, the achievements we have accomplished throughout the years, but most of all, the people. The people: our employees, our volunteers, our partners in Israel and all over the world and hopefully everybody here can join this partnership and be part of this amazing network. Access Israel is a non-profit organization that tries to make Israel accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities and the elderly in Israel, and we are very excited for the cooperation with Myanmar for this webinar and specifically to cooperate with you, Ambassador Ronen Gil-Or, the Israeli Ambassador to Myanmar, who I must tell you, Ambassador Gil-Or from the beginning when we were first introduced, he recognized the importance and the relevance of accessibility and inclusion in Israel and globally, and he has been one of our really greatest supporters in our path to fulfill the goal of global cooperation, sharing information, knowledge, and basically creating this Access Israel global network. So thank you, Ambassador. If we are starting with thank you, then it's a good time to thank everyone that helped make this webinar happen.
Thank you to Vicky Bowman, the Director of Myanmar Center for Responsible Business. Thank you for Maya for all the help in organizing this. Thank you for the Myanmar-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry and everyone else who helped. It's an honor also to have here, Daw Pyonekathy Naing with us, a member of the Parliament, the lower house representing Kalaw. Thank you also to Neil Bland who you will meet later on in the next hour-and-a-half.
He is going to give us surprise musical performance that will be interpreted by our sign language interpreter. I don't know if you ever saw music in signs, but that's what you're going to experience today, just to make sure that everybody can enjoy it, and thank you Ambassador for organizing this. Israel and Myanmar have a long friendship that started in 1953 when the two countries started the diplomatic relations. In the last 67 years, Myanmar and Israel have worked together in many fields: agriculture, health, education, and we are very happy today to mark the beginning maybe of a cooperation of Israel and Myanmar also in the field of accessibility and inclusion. We are happy to share with you all what we have learned and done in the last 20 years, and I am very eager and very excited to learn from you what has been done in Myanmar.
I can tell you that just from the preparation conversations that we had, we already see so much potential to mutual learning and mutual growing in this subject. We are true believers in the importance of working together, sharing information in this field of accessibility and inclusion. People with disabilities are the biggest minority in the world and it's an issue that concerns every country around the world. Accessibility and inclusion is non-political, non-controversial topic, and it goes beyond borders, religion, political affiliation, and during these times, I must say that it reminds me of something. COVID-19 is exactly the same, no borders, doesn't matter what religion you are, what race you are, which country you're in, we're all facing the same thing.
COVID-19 has become a major part of our lives, showing us all how we are all interconnected. The pandemic has been especially challenging for people with disabilities and the elderly. However, if we can look at the bright side of things, it has also shown us that many things, and this is something that I'm re-quoting all the time from Caroline.
Caroline, you said it at the beginning of the pandemic and that's my mantra. Things that we have been told for years we cannot do, all of a sudden, that everybody now is in quarantine, everybody is working from home, communicating from remotely. So many things that in the past was said that it's not possible to do, all of the sudden, we found solutions to do it. Now, everybody can enjoy it. For example, in this subject of today's webinar, employment, remote employment has suddenly become possible.
This is the solutions and the challenges that we're going to talk about today. Now, Access Israel has been invited all over the world to share knowledge, experience, challenges, and methodology developed to overcome such challenges. Now as I said, we understood that the global issue is relevant to all of us and that no matter where we go, whether it's developing country, developed countries, countries that are saying that they are leaders in accessibility or those who think they are not, we can learn from everyone.
Each player in the field contributes their unique angle and together we'll make it a much better picture. Now, Myanmar is an emerging market that is going through exciting development and from our preparation meetings with the leaders of this webinar, we are happy to see the understanding of the importance of the issue of inclusion, accessibility, and the desire to learn, share, and basically put this on this topic. We understood that in Myanmar each year and in each region and state, there are more and more active NGOs investing efforts on people with disabilities. The government and private sector follow. One of the points we will later discuss is that to ensure fulfilling the full potential of the economy, both in the workforce and in the general marketplace, people with disabilities cannot be ignored.
An accessible and inclusive business is a more profitable one. We believe that it is important whenever possible to make accessibility part of the DNA of the organizations and this is what we're going to discuss today. Let us dive into this webinar and start sharing, start learning, and make sure that our futures leave no one behind. I would like to invite for opening remarks, Ambassador of Israel to Myanmar, Ambassador Ronen Gil-Or, please. [inaudible] . My name is Ronen Gil-Or and I'm the Israeli Ambassador in Myanmar.
Inclusion of people with disabilities is surely one of the global most significant human values. In the Jewish Bible, we say, "Love your neighbor as thyself." Is there a more important neighbor than a person with disabilities? It is the first arrival of access Israel to Myanmar. So important for an emerged market, as you just said we have. That come with like the market, the emerged markets to gain that, to demonstrate responsibility for people with disabilities.
I would like to thank the founder of Access Israel, Mr. Yuval Wagner, co-founder, Mr. Rani Benjamini, CEO, Ms. Michal Rimon that we all know now. The organizer of this webinar from your side, Ms. Sharon. I have a special privilege today to warmly welcome to our webinar member of the Union Parliament from callow shunt states, though Bianca denying a prominent and very active parliamentarian leader in this country and a good friend of the Embassy of Israel, alumni of Israel, Moshav. In Myanmar, in every region or state, there are more and more efficient NGOs investing efforts with person with disabilities. The government and the private sector follow.
In a previous job in Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, and International Organizations. I've discovered this beautiful arena. I met Access Israel and many other NGOs are like. Israel as a spatial Human Rights Commission, vis-a-vis COPD, the United Nation Convention for the rights of persons with disabilities.
Since then, we have a great journey together. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Access Israel, that became to be also consultants to the United Nations, ECOSOC and all the other bodies of UN. Let me also praised my partners at Myanmar Center of responsible business Ms. Vicky Bowman,
Ms. Maya Muller as well as all my embassy team and all other contributors to this webinar. You're going to gain so much values and best-practices today and I wish you a great webinar. [inaudible] . Thank you very much.
Now, I would like to introduce Daw Pyonekathy Naing. It appears you are on mute. Michal, you're muted. Now, you hear me? Yes.
Perfect. Thank you. I won't prolong this. Ambassador Gil-Or made the thanks and the introduction. I would love to introduce Daw Pyonekathy Naing, member of the Parliament. Thank you very much, we would love to hear what you have to say.
Thank you, Sharon. It's my privileges to be part of this very valuable and meaningful webinar, the business case for employing people with disabilities. Of course, not only in Myanmar but also globally, many people with disabilities cannot access health services, education, and employment opportunities. This is for country like Myanmar, developing countries with many challenging ahead.
In our challenges for people with disabilities is much more greater than the developed nations like Israel, of course. I'm very much happy to be part of this webinar. In Myanmar, our 2008 Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, states that the Union shall care for the mothers and children, orphans, fallen defense services personnel's children, the aged and disabled. The government, of course, had been trying very hard and they tried to enact the law of the rights of persons with disability, which is the legal framework to enable the United Nation Convention on the rights of person living with disabilities in 2015. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement have been trying very hard to put all the people living with disability on track, to be able to access each of every rights that they should enjoy, like education, health care services, and of course employment. But still, they are so much to be done to fulfill the needs of the disabled citizen in Myanmar.
According to 2014 Census report, information collected only relate to the four of the six types of disability domains are by the Washington Group on disability statistic, so namely seeing, hearing, walking, and remembering or concentrating. There are 2.3 million person. That was 4.6 percent of total population who reported some degree of difficulty with either one or more of those four functional domains, out of our total population, 50.3 million people. In over half million, That was one percent as a whole, reported having moderate disabilities in country.
Among person with a disability, the illiteracy rate is also much greater than that of without disability, with limited or no education. Participation in the labor market is challenging, it's a greatest challenge from many person in Myanmar with disabilities. Today your webinar and for me, thank you so much for Access Israel. You all guys are showing your effort is to push for disability inclusive development in Myanmar. Collaborating with Israel Myanmar chambers and commerce, newly founded by Ambassador. I'm very much happy to be part off this webinar and of course, I'm very much honestly looking forward to seeing what shall the Webinar will provide me, the clues that I can think on and to put the recommendations that webinar provided me to my parliamentary platform, of course, to the executive decision-making platform.
Because to promote, to protect, and to ensure the full and equal employment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all person with disabilities and to promote respect for their inherent dignity is the core responsibility for those core disable, those core's steadily on the business arena as well. Thank you so much for inviting me to the webinar. Thank you, Vicky, for being close citizen, quite close to me here today and for your responsible business awareness, sharing and empowering the businesses in Myanmar.
That is the two thing that we could put parallel to make our businesses to become the responsible one. Put all the disables onto the track of the employment opportunities to reach out each of every people with disability in country. It will reduce the social burden for those who are taking care on their own. Almost those who tried to help the disabilities are facing the problem of poverty as well. Each of every household or those who are taking care of persons with disabilities.
This group of people sitting in this webinar could find practical approach and practical solution to help those who are taking care practically on their own in our country. For me, very important task for my political journey as well. I'm always there to put forward to help you guys all because I'm hoping Israel, could provide me with very practical approach, practical resolution, practical solution and practical collaboration to make all the ideas and theories, to be the practical implementation in near future.
Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much. Thank you. We promise, they'll be on. I can add and tell you two things.
First of all, the best thing I can tell you right now at the beginning of the webinar is that this is not a sprint, this is a marathon and for me it's just the beginning. I know many from Myanmar that are participating here have already started each in their own pace and the idea is to really create this wave that will be also visible and like a ripple effect for the rest of businesses in Myanmar. We are here together to make that happen. The fact that you are here is already the first step that I have no doubt will help push to that direction, so appreciated very much. I am very happy and honored to introduce our next opening remark by our partner here, Vicky Bowman, the director of the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business, MCRB. Vicky.
Thank you very much, Michal. Thank you to all the speakers. If there's some background noise, I apologize.
To Pyonekathy Naing said we're both here and claw, which is a bustling and quite unlocked and city and a truck has just come out, slide my window. Sorry. So I hope you can hear me. I think, this collaboration with the Israeli embassy started about two-and-a-half years ago, when I met Ronen at one of the genocide concerts that he organizes each year, and I said to him, "Is anything that we can learn from Israel's experience on helping people with disabilities into work?" I'm very glad that he didn't forget that. He came back with this idea and introduced us to Access Israel and the Chamber. So it's great that we're having this.
I think it's all first MCRB transcontinental webinar, and I'm so glad, Michal, that you and your organization organized the logistics for it because it's quite a achievement to have all these language, sign language, captioning and so on. We started working on this issue of disability and inclusive business, back in 2014 when shortly after we started, we were approached by the Myanmar Deaf Community Association who asked us if we could help to connect them to more employers, to help to get more of their network into jobs. We also agreed to that point that we would produce some Burmese language material. We translated a handbook which had come from the EU. It was called CSR D, CSR Disability. But in doing that, it was very timely, but we realized that actually we needed to produce material and share examples which we're fitting to the Myanmar contexts.
Above all, what we needed was inspiration from companies in Myanmar, whether that's Myanmar companies themselves or foreign investors. So that was when we started collaborating with the ILO, the International Labor Organization. We have with them and also with other partners like AAR Japan. We've held a couple of multi-stakeholder forums which have been an opportunity to bring together the government side, the Ministry of Social Welfare, but not just them, also the Ministry of Education, transport and so on. But also, we have brought together businesses who really do want to employ and includes more bit persons with disabilities in their workforce as customers, but have been struggling to work out how.
We've connected them to disabled people's organizations who have being doing vocational training and so on, but then not known where to go on to next. So it was great. Just the other day I was sent a e-mail by one of our partners to say that's from one of those forums that we had in 2017 that had led to a partnership with the biggest brewery who had partnered with a vocational training school for persons with disabilities, which then led to internships into the brewery, where the students who'd gone through ICT training had then gone off to work for one of the biggest employers in Myanmar. So that's really good to see practical changes taking place as a result of these connections.
We published in 2019 on International Day or sorry, 2018 on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a bilingual handbook. That contains lots of really good examples from Myanmar companies, particularly the banks. KBZ Bank has been a leader in this.
Apex Bank has also been very good. Then we've had a number of the international hotels in particular, who have gone out of their way to bring in persons with disabilities throughout the hotel, including at the front desk, including in housekeeping. They've been drawing on their international experience, companies like AKO. But we've also seen companies who we can be hearing from today on the panel, like Blue Ocean, who are purely Myanmar companies and for whom this has been something where they've wanted to be the pioneer. So what we're hoping from this webinar is that we will see those pioneers from Myanmar sharing their experience. We will hear from some of the international experts on this, and that will give more inspiration.
Both to the businesses on this webinar, but also to the DPO representatives of persons with disabilities, so that they can go out and they will be able to make the case that they are fully capable to enter into the workplace. They just need the businesses to make it possible for them to join and for them to show their capability. So thank you very much for allowing us to have this opportunity for this excellent Myanmar-Israel sharing. Back to you. Thank you very, very much.
I can't wait to hear the same thing that all speakers that you just mentioned. I will just say two notes, one in the chat there is explanation on the accessibility of this webinar. Please note whoever has not seen an accessible webinar. The idea is that everybody should be able to follow whether you need sign language, whether you need captioning.
By the way, captioning is not only for those who cannot hear or cannot understand maybe the language, it's also for people with learning disability or people who can be distracted easily. So this will be able to help you stay intact and get back to us as soon as you can. If you have any questions, any problems, please feel free to chat with Sharon Kessler in the chat and she will make sure to help you if you have any problems. Another thing that is important for me to share with you in, many conferences today in panels and webinars around the world, you see the format of a panel. You see those one, two, five panelists in clear view and other participants are basically not part of what you see on the screen. Here intentionally, we have you all with us.
We see you. We look at you. You are part of this amazing initiative and there's a reason for it. The idea is that this is supposed to be a webinar that will bring your input and your feeling a part of this amazing journey. So with that note, I would love to introduce my dear, dear friend and inspiration, Caroline Casey, the Founder and Creator of the Valuable 500. Caroline, I'm going to let you tell more about the organization, please. Good morning, everyone.
I'm speaking from Dublin, Ireland, and I'm very aware of the privilege that I speak English and everybody is speaking English here. I just want to say thank you. I apologize that I have no Burmese, so I'm very sorry, but good morning. It comes from my heart.
I want to start by acknowledging the leadership of everybody here today, particularly to the Ambassador and to our friends in Access Israel. Twenty years ago, I would never have believed I would be having a Zoom call about this work. But I would never have believed I would have been speaking about this topic. This issue about disability business inclusion is personal, not just to me but to everyone.
It is also incredibly important to the growths of our societies and to the professional growth of our businesses. We are at an inflection point in our world. This pandemic has really shook us up all over the world. It is not an equalizer. We know that.
It has blown open the injustice and inequity in our world. It has hurt all of us very deeply. However, it is also a great moment for all of us.
That is why this webinar is so important. As Michal has said, this is a long journey forward, not just for the inclusion of people with disabilities, for inclusive business and for our inclusive countries, it is for everyone. None of us have a right to judge right now. What country, what company, what person is getting this more right than anybody else. Because nobody is. Nobody is. So this is a moment that we have to, as Michal says, to collaborate.
To find a way for each of us to join, so that we can create a world where no one gets out. Societies that will thrive on the potential of everyone. One of my favorite singers is a man called Leonard Cohen, who died in 2016. His song Anthem, has this beautiful line, "It's the cracks where the light gets in."
That is where, I think, we are today. This global moments, this breakdown to a break through. So the timing of your webinar could not be better. The openness of all of us to share together regardless of where we are, is the magic moment. Listening to Vicky speak about responsible business, and the fact that she was considering this as right back in 2014, gives me such energy and hope. We all are here at this moment, and the best thing that I can say to you, all of you from this webinar is invitation to ask.
It is okay that you don't know everything. It is not okay that we do nothing. Why this is personal to me is, I am registered blind. Twenty years ago, I finally disclosed and came out into public about my vision impairment. I have been registered blind since I was born. But my parents did not tell me.
They brought me up as a sighted child because they were fearful of the world, that would treat me badly, if I was to tell them I had disability. Thankfully, the world is changing. At 17, I discovered that I had this condition, and then I hid it for 20 years.
I'm going to give you three pieces of data. Seven percent of our CEOs and leaders in business, have a disability like I do. Four out of five of them are hiding it today.
That is 20 years on from the day I did. That shows you that still the fear exists and the habits exist. The great news about habits is they can change. The great news is, we can create worlds where all of us get to be ourselves. The second really important statistic for you to know, is 50 percent of our global companies at leadership level have never had a conversation about disability, so you're already doing better, it's a good place to start. What we talk about, we can do something about, and when we don't speak about we can't.
The Valuable 500, the organization I set up, was launched at the World Economic Forum in 2019, with one of the most probably famous CEOs of the time, a man called Paul Polman. He was the CEO of Unilever, and he's the CEO that led the movement around sustainable business, to which Vicky would know very well. That is looking about responsible business and purpose-driven business, looking at how business can serve all of its stakeholders, not just its shareholders, and by doing that, the business becomes more successful. Everybody thought this man Paul Polman was crazy, but he is our chairman. They thought I was crazy, because The Valuable 500, when it was launched, was a campaign to find 500 of the world's most intentional companies, responsible businesses with their leaders, to put disability on their leadership agenda, to equally include disability.
No more. It didn't cost a company money, it cost a company intention. It asked the leader to use its head and it's heart, because business is about human beings. Customers, suppliers, talent, it's about humans.
That's what this is about intention. It didn't matter whether a company had done nothing, had done something, or was leading, it was about making the leader aware. We have leadership on this core, we've heard it from our other speakers. What leaders put their time and attention to, the rest of us follow. In the shadow, I'm the light of a leader. Leaders make choices, those choices create cultures, politically, in business and not for profits.
The Valuable 500, truly believed and does, if we do not have business leadership, we cannot crease inclusive and responsible business, and I'm sure Vicky will agree. Disability has been on the sidelines of business for far too long. Ninety percent of our global companies claim they are passionate about inclusion, and only four percent of them consider disability. Well, I don't know about you, but that sounds like a delusion to me, that is not inclusion.
There are 1.3 billion people in the world who have a disability. With a mother and a father, that is 73 percent of our global population. They say we're the biggest minority group in the world, I don't know, is 15 percent of our global population minority? I think it's a pretty big group.
The other issue is that disability as Michal said, will touch every single one of our lives, disability does not discriminate. Eighty percent of the 1.3 billion people in the world who have a disability is acquired between the ages of 18 and 64. As we grow older, all of us will find our way into this global family. Why, when everyone of us has an experience of disability, hasn't been on the sidelines of business? Well, in The Valuable 500 we believe because we have not been able to convince the leaders yet. The scale of the inequality crisis facing disability is simply too large and profound for governments, conventions, and charity and not-for-profits to do on their own.
We need inclusive and responsible business. Inclusive business creates inclusive societies with our policy makers. The crisis is so large that it effects our economies.
Exclusion costs us, it costs our countries, it costs the OECD countries seven percent before the pandemic. Ninety percent of our children with a disability do not get into a classroom. You are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty and not have a job if you have a disability, it's a big crisis.
However, there is an extraordinary opportunity. We are not asking business to become involved in this because it's worthy or it's good, it is very important. As I said inclusive business creates inclusive society, but it is essential for business now. It is essential because the 1.3 billion people, with a mother and a father which is 73 percent of the global consumer base, is worth eight trillion dollars. Now what business, turns its back on that market.
It is also a great source of innovation, insight, talent, and growth. Today we're speaking about the employment of people with disabilities. Unemployment is just hard for business anyway. I can imagine business going, what, how, where? None of us have the right to force a business to employ groups of people if they do not understand the link to value.
The reason that we're trying through The Valuable 500, to open our minds to a different way forward exactly like Access Israel is, is employment of people with disabilities, you need to see the link to the value of this market, not just to people with disabilities but off their parents for the customers that we speak to, but of the insight and the innovation as our world changes. Did you know the remote control was designed for blind people watching television? I can't even see a television, but that's what was done and we all use a remote control, that is accessibility universal design. Did you know that text messaging on our phones was designed for hearing impaired, and we all use it. Before we force businesses to employ people with disabilities, we must as a society see the value, and how that insight and intelligence being brought into our companies, improves our culture, the customer experience, the attraction, and retention of talent.
But we need to do this in safety, Michal has said this, "We're all just beginning, this is not a sprint, I'm not even sure if it's a marathon, I think this is a long-lasting journey, not just for the inclusion of people with disabilities but for everyone." With The Valuable 500, we decided if we got 500 of the world's intentional leaders to put disability on their leadership agenda, have a conversation, make a commitment to action, and communicate that action to their employees, and to the public, we can help, we could create this community of change globally, because all of our experiences are so different. Different industries, different countries, different ideas, different culture, but together if we created this community we could change this, we could change it. I proudly stand here today to say, and my voice shakes because I'm emotional.
I was the woman that everybody told or said was crazy because disability could never be on the leadership agenda, and we could never get CEOs. But today, we have 352 CEOs and leaders, and companies around the world, globally. From Japan to South America, to Brazil, to Kenya, to America, to Israel. Well, I'll tell you what Access Israel, if ever you have a better partner, Access Israel brought us 45 companies. This is the partner that you need. You know what's so exciting with intention, and with heads, and with hearts, we will have only 142 membership places left in The Valuable 500.
Because of the unprecedented success of this community, which was driven by the heads in the hearts and the intentions, and hugely amplified by COVID. Because business now know they are going to get ahead in community. They're not leaving disability to the side, they will pioneer on a way forward for differentiation and not be caught. In next year, we will be launching phase 2 of The Valuable 500.
For all of our members, together we'll do this radical historic change and drive system change in our global business together. Together we will work on changing our businesses, sharing best practice, working together with the ILO, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, 500 companies, what we think will be 20 million employees and a lot of energy. I want to finish by saying three things that I have learned in this, will you be kind to ourselves as we try? As I said at the beginning, there is no wrong except to do nothing, be patient with ourselves, share. The biggest thing about stopping us doing this is fear. It's okay, we're innovating and we're going to fail.
It's really all right. Number 2 is please continue to collaborate. Don't be frightened to say the things that you are asking in your head because if you don't ask them we're not going to fix them. Use this amazing network that's just begun.
Access Israel has created this global family and network who are only dying to help, we all want to help you make this better. Let's be this inclusion revolution for all of us. Thirdly, for any business leader out there, of course I'm going to say to you, join The Valuable 500 family, join this unique community because next year we can help you to gather in our system, go forwards. Very lastly, thank you for having an Irish person sit here this morning. I have been to Myanmar many years ago and I hope to come back. Just love and respect to everybody.
I do think this is our moment, let's make the very best of us, because we can. COVID has shown us the system can change when it wants to, when it has leadership in heart. Thank you. Thank you so much.
As always, if we can unmute whoever is not muted, Caroline, I want to be practical because I am such a true believer of The Valuable 500. We have here already 85 people, many of them representing amazing businesses in Myanmar. Can we be more specific. I know that to join the valuable 500, all you need to do is the CEO to sign a declaration saying, yes, we understand this is on the agenda. We are committed.
What are the company profiles that you are looking for? We are looking for any company that has over 1,000 employees. It doesn't matter if it's 1,000 employees in Myanmar or connected to the rest of the world, 1,000 employees. Needs to be private sector, so it can't come from government. What we're asking the companies to do is for the CEO to help their honorable commitments and sign an action to commitments. Whatever the commitment is, please go on to the valuable 500 websites and you'll see the types of commitments. Some commitments is simply our smallest coming on to this webinar, bringing in companies like Access Israel to discuss this.
Talking to other organizations. Big companies do big actions, but every action counts. The most important piece then is whatever your action to commitment is, you share it with your employees and you share it publicly. That commitment brings you within the community. Then next year within the community, we work with companies like Access Israel all around the world and help your organizations on the journey with your leadership, your culture, and your brands reporting research and representation. We will share best practice together in that community.
But for now, to join, you go on to The Valuable 500 websites and work on what commitment is important to you, and it doesn't matter how small, medium, or large it is. It just needs to be a leadership commitments. Thank you very much. I'm crossing my fingers and we are here to answer any questions you have regarding this process. As Caroline said, we have 45 companies in Israel joining and more to come. At 500, it's going to close.
January 30th we are closing because the community is for 500. That's it. No pressure. No pressure, guys. Time's clicking and we should definitely make an effort to include Myanmar businesses as well. Thank you so much, Caroline, and I'm really moved as always, from what you say. Now, the next presenter is me.
The reason I'm here presenting is because when we were looking over the people participating in this webinar, we saw some people that Vicki and the ambassador said they're amazing, they do amazing things, they are aware, they know. But others, they are new to this subject. One of the things when we are forming this community, one of the things that are very important is to make sure that we are on the same level in at least terminology, that we know what we're talking about. I'll give you an example, even the definition of a person with disability, I'm not sure we all know and are talking about the same definition, so it was important for me to just take a couple of minutes and really make sure we are on the same page. If you can upload the presentation. Thank you. What I want to do is we are going to basically focus on really a couple of terminology.
The first terminology is going to be, as I said, what is a person with disability? What is accessibility? The uniqueness of Israel law, inclusion, the mirror terminology of inclusion, and specifically inclusive employment. While my presentation is being uploaded, I will just tell you, that as we mentioned, I am the CEO of Access Israel, but accessibility is just a means to an end, it is not the goal of Access Israel. The goal of Access Israel is inclusion, is true inclusion, improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in Israel, all disabilities in all areas of life so people can be integrated into society with dignity, respect, equality, rights, and a high level of independence. Now, I can tell you that when Access Israel was established, it was 21 years ago in an Israel that was not accessible.
Here and there there was a building that was accessible because the owner knew somebody and had a family member, so he was very sensitive, but it wasn't something that was throughout the country. People, including Yuval Wagner, who you will meet at the end of this webinar, and who established Access Israel, Yuval was a son of a father in a wheelchair and he spent his childhood picking his father up and downstairs because that was the reality we were living in. I can tell you that many people and probably including me if I was in that position, I would rather stay at home and not be picked up and down.
That's how we find many people 20 years ago and even afterwards, spending even decades in their houses coming out only with ambulances for medical treatment and not being part of the society. Now, Yuval himself got injured in a helicopter crash and found himself with an even more severe disability than his father, again, in an Israel that was not accessible. What he did 21 years ago is basically write a letter to the President of Israel, Ezer Weizzman and say, what else do I have to give my country in order to get respect, basic respect? To make a long story short, the President of Israel got back to him and basically said, we apologize for not doing more. Please don't talk, do.
Establish an NGO and make a difference. In six months, let's launch the NGO at the presidential residents in Israel. This is how we started, we started very small.
We thought we're starting only with a focus on physical accessibility, which I will elaborate in a second. Today, we know that Yuval thought he's going to close the NGO five years after it was established because it's just five years and we'll get things done and that's it. Today, we know it's an ongoing process. People with disability, this definition of a person with stability in Israel, I can tell you that we are talking about 18 percent of the population, 1,600,000 people with disabilities, all types of disabilities. We're talking about physical disabilities, hearing disabilities, visual, mental, cognitive, communicational.
The idea is, I always say in my presentations, think about, the 10 fingers that we have in our hands. When you look at the law in Israel, at the definition of people with disabilities, if I had my little finger chopped off, it would be frustrating, maybe paying for 10 fingers in manicure and getting only nine. But it's not really something that will really affect my life unless, for example, I'm a pianist and then I need all 10 fingers to play the piano. But it's the same thing will happen to my thumb, all of the sudden, basic things at work, basic things at home. Basic tools, opening a can even, is something that you are not able to do when the same thing, a finger is missing, but this finger creates a different effect than the little finger. That's the difference of the terminology of a person with disability.
In Israeli law, in order to be included in the definition by law, you have to have a disability that truly effects in a very significant way, the quality of life in at least one major area of life. It can be at work, it can be leisure, it can be at home, etc. Please note that when we're talking about accessibility, as Caroline mentioned, in Israel we have 11 percent of population that are elderly.
I wish you all good health and live to 120, but guys, at the age of 99, we will all prefer to take the elevator or use the ramp and not walk up and downstairs. Again, the statistics that people with disabilities that are included, the global statistics I can tell you is between 15 percent and 25 percent in Israel, as I said, it's 18 percent and that is the variation between the countries. Now, sorry, we have a problem with the presentation, if you can take it backwards. Now, I must also mention to you terminology when we're talking people with disabilities, in the USA for years, they call them handicapped. Now, what is handicapped? Handicapped is a hand in the cup, because what can a person with disability do if not beg? This was the terminology used for many years.
Today, the terminology is a person with disability, don't say disabled, don't say crippled, and I'm sure you have your definition of this terminology in your language. But in Israel, I can tell you the law itself changed and today the law is not talking about the disabled, but rather the person with disability, putting the focus on the people themselves. Now, what is accessibility? The legal definition of accessibility is being able to reach a place and enter it. Being able to receive services and being able to use a product, and to do all this with dignity, with respect as equals with maximum level of independence. This is the definition by law and I see people taking photographs will be more than happy to pass this presentation onto you and the translation of the law. The idea is, think about it, accessibility, many people think only the physical accessibility, only about people in wheelchairs, for example.
But think about it, a blind person does not need a ramp, a blind person does not need an elevator necessarily. But if a blind person wants to order food from the pizza place and the website is not accessible, you won't be able to do it. Or if a deaf person or a person with hearing disability will want to come and get service from your shop and the person does not know how to communicate with a person with hearing disability, they won't be able to be treated as equals and have accessible service there. So accessibility is something that is very wide, it includes the physical aspects, and here I must tell you that physical accessibility is a sequence, you have to make sure that everything is accessible in order to allow true inclusion. Because it's enough that everything is accessible except you don't have parking space for the disabled and that's it.
People that need parking space will not be able to use and enjoy the accessibility that you have committed yourself to. The physical accessibility is the sequence. The second type of accessibility, as I said, is the services, the usability, as they call it the DUN.
It's not enough to be able to enter a building or to enter a store, or to enter a business. The question is, what do you do once you there? Accessibility means that you will be able to do like everybody else. If that place has a kiosk for example, for information, or has any other product that you use in order to get the service, that has to be accessible also.
I can tell you in Israel in the last several years, all banks have accessible ATMs. I will open a parentheses and say, the problem is it turns out that many of the blind, were not aware of it because they can't see it and it wasn't published enough. So banks really put in a lot of efforts in money in creating those accessible ATMs.
But they said not a lot of blind people use it, so accessibility is not just doing, but also telling the story, publishing it and we will talk about that later. I'm having a problem with the presentation if you can just click, thank you. To the next slide. Now, in Israeli law, we have what we call equality law, that is like an umbrella law saying, guess what, people with disabilities have rights. That is something that was established, legislated in 1999.
Basically, it says that every ministry has to do regulations that are specific to that ministry. For example, Ministry of Health, regulations on accessible health. Ministry of Education, regulations on Accessible education.
What is very unique in Israel, because we are traveling the world and we see all other places, the law in Israel and the requirements in Israel are relevant to everybody. Not just the public sector, but the private sector, the public sector, everybody, NGOs, everybody has to be accessible when they're providing services to the public. Of course, there's the other layer of standards, which is basically the little fine tuning accessibility standards on how to do things. What the height of the table should be, what the width of the chair should be, etc.
Now we have recognized in Israel three types of organizations, basically. There are those organizations, I'm sure many of you here answer to that definition, who understands. Who understands the potential, understand the importance, and really implement the saying an accessible business is a more profitable one.
There are those who do the bare necessities. They do it just to check the box. It's mandatory. We'll do the minimum possible and you know what, in those cases, usually without enforcement, nothing really moves. The third companies are those who truly cannot. They need extra funding, they need exemptions, they need easing the requirements; if you are in a building that is not engineer wise, is not possible to turn into an accessible one, this is something we need to take into account.
It's not that we say black and white, and that's it. You have to make sure that the law is taking this into consideration. Now to sum this up, the uniqueness of the Israeli law, and this is something very unique, we haven't seen it anywhere, is first of all, in Israeli law, every service provider, every year has to undergo accessible training Services.
Meaning you have to train your service providers every year on how to provide accessible service to your customers. Not only that, but at least once in the lifetime of the service provider, they have to undergo experiential activities, and we will go with that in a second. Another unique thing in Israel is that our legislation has teeth. It's not just a law with declarations, if you don't do it, you can get fined, you can get criminal accounts, etc. In Israel, every company that has more than 25 employees and provides service to the general public, has to have a coordinator in the organization. That is the go-to guy on whatever has to do with accessibility when customers have questions, one demands have problems, this is the guy they have to turn to and usually in the organizations they turn to that guy for also guidance, etc.
In Israel also, we have accessibility profession that is both physical, and we have a different one that has to deal with the services. According to Israeli law, you have to have those professionals sign any authorization saying that you are intact and you are abiding by law. Finally, in Israel, the accessibility is not just in major cities, but it's a country-level accessibility.
Again, let's be realistic, guys. I'm sitting here talking about what has been done, talking about what we do. There's still a lot to do.
It doesn't mean that every service provider does do training, it doesn't mean that every city in Israel is accessible, but we are on the way. We are in fact, still a lot to do, but we're getting there. Now when we're talking about service accessibility, it is important to see this sun and for whoever does not see this, basically we have the person with disability and the elderly, the customer in the middle, and all the services, all the places where your business comes together with the customer is part of the accessibility service, whether it's the physical, the technologies, the events you do. I will elaborate in a second about the training, the websites.
Today in the pandemic, we see that more and more people are using the websites applications to be in communication, to purchase things, to learn things, etc. If those websites are not accessible then blind people can not use it, and deaf people can not use it, and people with disability in their hands cannot use it, etc. When we're talking about call centers, more and more have been using the call centers.
They tried to use a phone call, but not everybody can use the phone call. So what do we do? Do we have alternatives? Can we use the fax, can we use SMSs, can we use chats, etc? Of course, all the information and advertising, I'm reminding you that blind people in the ATMs, it's great that you are doing things for accessibility. If you don't publish it, it's as if it's not done. People with disabilities are really tired of being expectful and then disappointed.
So until you tell them we're here for you, we're open, we're accessible, we thought of you needs, they will not be there. Now, the methodology that Access Israel has established throughout the years and was adopted into legislation is basically taking the human factor in your organizations and turning them to the human ramp. I can tell you that one of the companies was a gas station, they did everything and they wanted everything to be perfect and accessible. But then, the cleaning lady once came and decided she wants to clean behind the refrigerator of the cold drinks. When she put the refrigerator back, she didn't put it exactly in the right spot.
All of a sudden, the door, that was designed to be accessible and be opened by a person in a wheelchair easily, it got stuck and people in wheelchairs could not come freely. Now this is an example of money that was spent, of thoughts that were given, it was supposed to be accessible and all the sudden, a little overlook made it inaccessible. The human factor, once they see it, once they understand it, once they are aware, they can be the ones making the ramp, taking themselves and noticing, changing, helping, assisting, in many cases that does the whole difference. Now the way we do it and I will flow very quickly in this because I don't want to over bear the time that I have, and I will be more than happy to answer any questions after this webinar. If you want more information, we'll be more than happy to give. This is the model Access Israel does in Israel and all over the world.
The Four Pillars. Basically, in order to create a change in training,not only training, but also, for example, in an inclusive employment, it's not enough to have somebody with disability join your workforce, you have to make sure and prepare the people that are going to work alongside him, that they know how to communicate, how to talk. So the same trend, the same model is relevant also for them. The first pillar is the knowledge.
When you don't know something you're afraid of it, you want to stay apart from it. Once you know about it, it is much easier to communicate and to feel more comfortable next to people with disabilities. The second thing is getting to know the person behind the disability.
Again, what we do, I can sit here and talk, but in our trainings we always bring people with disabilities, not just one, not just two, several disability in order to show the different variety, the needs and requests of various disabilities. But even that knowledge and getting to know the people is not enough. We believe that it's not just talking the talk, it's walking the walk, really experiencing, and this is the third pillar. We are called the crazy Israelis around the world, taking this non-sexy, non-attractive subjects than having people stand in line in order to experience disability. Have you ever woken up in the morning and said, I wonder how it is to be blind.
I'm going to go to Access Israel and really try this. Well, people are doing it and it is causing an effect, it is causing a change. Once you have that combination of knowledge, getting to know the person, the experience, we give the fourth pillar and that is the power to change.
Whether you're a first grade student or the CEO of the largest bank in Myanmar, you can make a difference, and this is part of the four pillars. Now, inclusion is a word that has been overused. At first, we used it for disability, but today inclusion is used for including all parts of life, all parts of society.
Of course, when we're using it, we are focusing on inclusion for people with disabilities. But I loved this quote that I got posted in one of my friends' Facebook. I'll just read it to you for whoever does not read. I think this is the gist of inclusion.
"Accessibility is being able to get into a building. Diversity is getting invited to the table. Inclusion, is having a voice at the table. Belonging, is having your voice heard at the table." If we have to remind ourselves sometimes what our goal is, what we are aiming at, this is it.
Now last slide, inclusive employment. I'm just putting it in bullet points, and it goes back to what Vicky said and what Caroline said. The first thing in inclusive employment is don't do it just to check the box. If it doesn't really come from the understanding that it is the right thing to do, not just because it's mandatory by law, it's probably not going to really work.
It is very important to understand why you're doing it and do it all the way from the top, so everybody in the company will understand the goal and the issue here. True commitment, and that will make sure that once you understand the true commitment to this, to accessibility in general and to inclusive employment, that is the way you can have a successful and profitable business. Now I must tell you that in one of the international webinar conferences we attended, one of the companies, I think it was Amazon, was talking about a big launch they did to one of their products.
They upgraded one of their current products and they put in a lot of money in marketing the new product. Once the product hit the website and people started going into it, it turned out that the upgrade basically ruined the accessibility for people with hearing disabilities. The new thing was not better, it was worse. They had to take it back and take it into a new development and changing it, put in a lot of money in doing that and a lot of money in relaunching it later.
They understood later that if they would have had people with disability in the whole process, that would have made a change. I think that that is one of the things of inclusive workforce. I didn't mention it, but I can tell you that more than 50 percent of my employees are people with all types of disability. I can tell you that the diversity is something that challenges me every single day as a CEO and makes me a better one, makes me a better person and a better organization. As I said before, it's not enough to say we are adding employees with disability, it's not enough to plant the seeds, you have to make sure the soil in which they are planted is prepared with all the tools and with all the training and how to do it right. Lastly, COVID-19 has taken all of us to the remote employment.
I can tell you this was good news for many people with mobility disability, those who it's easier for them to work from home all of a sudden could do it and it wasn't a problem, it wasn't a challenge. However, think about those employees who cannot hear so well, hearing disabilities, visual disabilities, all of a sudden all these Zooms and all these Microsoft Teams events are something that are very challenging. When we're talking about remote employment, we have to make sure we're talking about accessible remote employment, make sure that you describe what you're seeing or the slides that you are showing, make sure that you are attentive to the needs of the employees that you are including. I will finish with one very short story. In one of the banks that we advised, they included a person with hearing disability and we followed them and made sure that everything is okay, and at first it was and then after a while, he said, "Listen, it's not really working," and we asked why not? He said, "I don't know, sometimes she does the job, sometimes she doesn't do the job, we don't think it's somebody we can really trust.''
We came in and started asking questions and you know what it turns out? It turns out that her boss in the bank chews gum, does like this. Now, can you try to think about a person with hearing disability that is trying to read lips while their boss is chewing gum? All of a sudden when they chewed gum, the employee with hearing disability didn't really understand what was said, and she was afraid to say something and so she was considered a bad employee. Luckily, we intervened, we gave the training and I can tell you that she was promoted I think once or even twice in that bank and she's doing quite well now, that the surrounding is prepared and ready to include her. Thank you very much. I hope that this was a little terminology,
getting everything straight and after doing that, I am very, very happy, first of all to answer questions afterwards and give you again all the information of the methodology Access Israel does, and I'm very happy to invite Mr. Neil Bland, who will do a little intermission here, but an accessible one. Neil, may I stop, please.
Good morning. Can you hear me? Hello, please wave if you can hear me. I'm very happy to be here.
I'm talking to you from the heart of Tel Aviv, Israel. Good morning, Tel Aviv. [inaudible]. Thank you, Ambassador, again, all for a very long operation, fruitful corporation. Thank you the Embassy of Israel in Myanmar, and from my beloved Israel, to beloved Myanmar, I'd like to dedicate this song which is a special invitation by Ambassador Gil-Or.
To all the children I met in my humanitarian tours in Asia, and Africa, and South America, children and people with disabilities. A famous conductor, Sergiu Celibidache said that when one ability is taken from you, other abilities step forward and take over and let's say this song is dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach, the famous composer who was blind at the end of his days. Let's say the song is dedicated to Ludwig Van Beethoven who was totally being deaf losing his hearing when he was 30, or Stevie Wonder of course, or Ray Charles, or even Adrian Von Ziegler and all of this is like an end of the road song, please consider it like your winning formula. We all do it that way, I'm sure you do it your way. Amazing. Thank you so much, and by the way, guys, let's just move a little bit.
Do you know how you clap your hands in sign language? Because you remember, if I do like this, people who are deaf will not see it. The idea, I would love a picture now, everybody do like this with your hands, and this is clapping hands to you Maestro. Thank you so much and Shawn if you can take a picture of the view of everybody clapping their hands like this. Again, thank you very much.
On this note, I want to say something. When I joined Access Israel 13 years ago, I was under the impression we have to get the medical system and the welfare system accessible because that's what people with disability needs. No. People with disability wants to live their life like all of us. They want to go to concerts. They want to go to the movie. Well, today nobody can go to concert, nobody can go to the movie, but I'm talking about after COVID-19, the idea guys is that everything has to be accessible.
When Maestro Brand accepted our invitation to sing here, it was a great opportunity to stress to all of you. In your employment area, you have events for employees or for the public or for the customers, make sure you think about 100 percent of the customers, 100 percent of the employees. Let them enjoy and thank you very much to the sign language interpretation, that was amazing. Thank you so much. Without further ado, we will move to our next session, success stories from Myanmar and from Israel.
I'm very, very proud to introduce our moderator, who will lead this session, Dr. Sai Kyi Zin Soe. He is the research consultant on "What are businesses currently doing on a stand alone basis or with other DPOs to promote employment of people with disabilities?" In the panel, we're going to have Htun Htun Naing from Blue Ocean investment and chair of MICCI, and we will have Aung Chit Kin. I apologize if something in my pronunciation is not good. Remember, my name is Michal and in some areas of the world, it is not possible to pronounce that, so I understand you totally. Aung Chit Kin is the director of human resources in the Shangri-La Yangon. We have all the way from Israel, Iris Kiriaty-Moyal from Intel company.
Please Dr. Sai Kyi Zin Zoe, please. Before I pass it to Dr. Sai Kyi just to correct that Dr. Aung Chit Kin is the founder of Strategy First University. Just to clarify.
Thank you very much. Sorry for that. Thank you, Michal, and thank you, Maya, for making correction. We just had a very inspirational moment and very insightful and very enlightened session previously. I'm not taking much time.
I'm going to take it to Htun Htun Naing which he has been involved in a disability inclusion movement for quite long time and he has been very supportive to the community and he's been helping a lot with the government as well as the business community to become inclusive society. Htun Htun Naing, could you explain what you have been doing on a disability inclusion agenda? The most important thing to explain about is, what inspired and what motivates you to be inclusive business leader in Myanmar. Thank you, Dr. Sai. Thank you for organizing this event for investors and then Access Israel, this is a wonderful events and this is all benefit Myanmar people. I'm very appreciated and very honored to be part of our panelists today. As the moderators already introduced me because my company is Blue Ocean Operating Management.
We are the first and the largest call centers in Myanmar. Actually, I wanted to join 500 value the company, but unfortunately it must be 1,000 people, so I only have 500 people. Maybe I will try another 500 to employ and I'm going to join this company. I started my companies in 2009.
My background with the ICT company, so is 2009 as a small company at 2011, I set up the call center, which is the first call center in Myanmar. The first employee I start with 100 people and it is not very much. What I see in the community is especially in Yangon looking around, all the disabled peoples are moving around and they are unemployed. This is what I've seen from when we are this childhood, but nobody is taking care. But what I noticed that is somebody is communicate to me through the e-mail.
He was the graduated and he didn't get the job. I said, "Why you didn't get the job?" He said, "Nobody employ me." "Why nobody is employ you?" I called him for interview. I forgot his name. He was my first employee in call center. Then, he said is an disable. But don't say disable, what you can do? "I can type the computer, I can answer the phone."
I said maybe can you promise me to work at least six months or a year. I said, lovely to promise. I said he is my first, the person with the disability and employ in 2011. He's a hardworking person and he learned a lot. The thing is, he can do much better than a normal person.
I realize it. They are capable. People think that they are not capable, actually, they are more capable. They have more passionate about the job.
That's why one of my inspired me is came off from my mind is why don't we hire more disability people in my organization? This is one thing is I can create a job for them. I contact to the Ministry of social