A study on “Ticket to Work” aiming to support and minimise long-term disadvantage of Down syndrome individual transition from school to work showed that many communities want to establish their own local employment for individual with Down syndrome. It is explained in the study that many communities were willing to provide support, accreditation, resources, strategies, and practices which is aimed at producing optimal employment and career achievement for young people with disability.
Following the study, in the last few decades, many employers started hiring individuals with Down syndrome to fill in available positions in the company. Veronica Mulenga, employment development manager at Down ’s syndrome Association, in TotalJobs commented that employers’ perception of talents with Down syndrome has advanced significantly as more companies are looking forward to employing them. Many of public individuals have also acknowledged and recognised their existence in the society. Additionally, savvy employers realise that numerous values employees with Down syndrome can bring huge contribution which helps company stay competitive in job market.
However, as employees with special needs, Down syndrome staffs would require more supports from coworkers. “Having a work ally or mentor will offer the person with Down syndrome a first port of call for any queries or concerns,” said Mulenga. In this case, if you are thinking of hiring individual with Down syndrome or already have employees with Down syndrome in the team, Mulenga has shared her tips on how to support and become better workplace ally to employees with Down syndrome:
First – Learn more about the condition
By understanding their condition such as slow in response or learning, you’ll be in a better position to support your colleague. Also, employers or human resources department should provide learning materials or training for other employees.
Second – Make your colleague feel welcomed
Be their support system and offer to mentor them in tasks to ensure they have all help they need. Making your colleague feel included will create a positive atmosphere. For example, ask them to join you for lunch or letting them know about company’s event in which all staffs are included.
Third – Empower your colleague
Individuals with disabilities can be more vulnerable to workplace bullying. So, ensure your business and employees that there is zero tolerance to discrimination. If you see any mistreatment of your colleague, report the incident immediately, and speak up for them.
Fourth – Explain the unwritten rules
It is the little things that matter but will give huge impact to them as they feel that their co-worker or boss does care. You can tell them company’s unwritten rules such as which mug to use and where to make a cup of tea. Act as a mentor and help your new colleague settle in.
Fifth – Respect your colleague
Some individuals might need more or additional training/time to adapt themselves in their job and working environment. Yet, do not underestimate their willingness and work ability. Additionally, here are some comments from employees with Down syndrome taken from Down syndrome Guild.