Disability and career: an impossible pair?

As a woman and a worker with a visible disability, I often find myself in front of more or less evident “walls”, when it comes to access not just a job (that is, itself, very important, as we’ve underlined many times here, for the disabled people dignity and autonomy), but also career opportunities, just like everyone else, thanks to my background of experiences and skills. But, most of the times, I had to verify (not without some disappointment) that, when it comes to disability and career opportunities, it’s still a long way, mostly under a cultural perspective.

Gradually, also under the “push” of monetary sanctions, businesses are starting to accept the idea to include people with disability in their workforce. But let’s be honest: looking at the job opportunities issued on the specialized job boards, how many of those specifically addressed to “protected categories” refer to highly qualified and specialized profiles? Nevertheless, many disabled people have high levels of education, a relevant professional background and advanced skills. Then, why, not just in Italy, is it that hard to go beyond the prejudice that, at the most, a “protected category” (most of all if he has an evident physical disability) can carry out basic, low level tasks that, preferably, don’t require a direct contact with top customers? Why do disability and career seem to be still incompatible?

Many disabled workers, even though they have a job, suffer (more or less subtle) forms of discrimination every day, when not real blackmails. Many of them, in these months, have sent private messages to Move@bility to share their problems in (not to mention those who are now demoralized, after years pointlessly looking for a job fitting with their skills and experience). I’ve personally experienced as well, during my professional path, how it feels to be rejected from career opportunities because those were considered (a priori) “incompatible with my disability”. Cannot a disabled person be a credible leader?

It makes me think the fact that, too often, also associations that, in theory, defend the disabled people rights, when you point them out such cases of discrimination, reply, even somewhat annoyed: “Don’t make a fuss” and “You’d rather think about who’s still looking for a job!”. It’s true: the overwhelming majority of disable people, today, is totally left out the world of work. But is this a good reason to, even indirectly, support the opinion that disability and career are, as a matter of fact, seen as incompatible?

Only when we, for first, will start to overcome this “welfare-oriented” view and to demand, for everyone, the real equality of rights (and duties) and of chances to access job (and career) opportunities compatible with the experience, the skills and, of course, the condition of each individual, we can talk about real progress and inclusion.

 

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