In 2014 I Can! started a new division called I Can! Clean with a view to providing employment for our learners that had completed learnerships within one of our academies.
One of the most wonderful cases of inclusion and reasonable accommodation that I have ever witnessed has been through the cleaning division.
One of our academy learners applied for a position within our cleaning division. We were initially concerned about placing Gugu on site as she is a little person and we thought that due to her not being able to reach most surfaces she would not be able to perform the cleaning tasks required of her. However, due to her persistence, we placed Gugu in a call centre as a cleaner.
I accompanied her on-site for her first shift and was dismayed at the way all of the call centre agents stared at Gugu the first time she walked down the centre of the call centre area and asked Gugu if she was going to be ok. Gugu replied confidently that she would be absolutely fine. To my amazement, I returned to the site a week later to check on Gugu, to find that as she walked through the same area where the agents had previously stared at her and made comments under their breaths, they were now shouting “Hi” and giving her high-fives as she passed by!!!
I learnt two lessons from Gugu. The first being to never make the assumption that someone cannot perform certain tasks due to their disability: ask the person with the disability first – often something as simple as a step-ladder will enable the person to perform their job just like anyone else! The second lesson was: don’t let your own fears and inhibitions hold people with disabilities back – trust them and follow their lead. As the well-known disability slogan goes “Nothing about us without us….”
Since I Can! Clean showed such great potential to ensure employment for our learners, a decision was made to take this opportunity to another level of professionalism by entering into a partnership with Capacity Outsourcing. Through this partnership we are able to assist our clients to provide employment for their learners once they have completed their learnership, as well as access the 5 bonus points under the new Skills Development Codes. Capacity has staff employed in this division with over 13 years’ experience in the corporate cleaning industry and I Can! has the knowledge and experience on how to successfully integrate people with disabilities into the workplace.
In our experience, cleaning services (specifically office and ablution cleaning) offers the ideal environment for repetitive work which is ideally suited to people with an intellectual disability.
Should you find this solution attractive and in line with your corporate transformation process, we would welcome the opportunity to explain in more detail the impact of this proposition – not only for you as our client, but also for your learner.