“Inclusion helps you in your personal growth. To be a stronger, tolerant, kind and open-minded person. These help you to be more creative, successful
and better at a job you do.”
Suzana Bohorč graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in the field of occupational therapy. She is employed in the company for training and employment of disabled people Želva, where she leads the Center for Vocational and Professional Rehabilitation. She is the leader of the rehabilitation team and the social inclusion program. Among other things, she coordinates the implementation of internal education and the implementation of the project “The transition of young people with special needs to the labor market”. She is an active member of various working groups under the auspices of the URI Soca Development Center and the Association of Occupational and Professional Rehabilitation Professionals. During her free time, she has been running club activities at the Society Sožitje Ljubljana for many years and she has been performing the tasks of the vice-president of the Society Sožitje Ljubljana, which is a society for helping people with intellectual disabilities.
1. Why and since when does your company believe and invest in diversity management?
Our company is already based on the idea of diversity management. We were established by the proposal of the Ministry of Employment and our Acting Founder is a Union of Coexistence. Since 1991 and until now, our basic guideline and mission is the employment of people with special needs. We believe in our company and stand for values: tolerance, humanity, innovation, creativity, responsibility, and teamwork. We cannot imagine a labor market without diversity. We believe that everyone, no matter of disability, has the right of giving a chance and opportunity.
2. What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?
We believe in and defend the qualities and values of tolerance, humanity, creativity, team collaboration, self-initiative, responsibility, and innovation. In all this, our mission and vision are based.
3. Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organisation so far?
All our activities are based on social inclusion. We provide programs such as sewing and carpentry workshop, the green program (landscaping), management and containment of building. The company also carries out concession activities for even more difficult to employ and vulnerable groups of disabled people as well as unemployed social groups. Our own activities (cleaning, municipal gardening services, building management, sewing room …), training and employment services for people with disabilities are carried out in other economic workplaces, at different locations. So, they do not work, somewhere where nobody can not see them, but are there in the open, proving the doubtful ones, they are capable.
4. Many companies aren’t prioritising inclusion and diversity initiatives right now. Why should they reconsider?
In the first place because they always surprise us, in a good way that is. The main problem is fear. It prevents us, from seeing everything they are capable of. Not only that there are many positive reasons why, you should include diversity (which in our case proves all good references we gain from other companies and the continuous economic growth), but inclusion helps you in your personal growth. To be a stronger, tolerant, kind and openminded person. These help you to be more creative, successful and better at a job you do.
5. In your opinion, what tangible benefits does diversity bring to your company?
As mentioned in the previous question, the advantages are in the business field, as well as on the personality of man itself and consequently social. We are the one, who create the society, in which we would like to live in. So if there is a belief in inclusion present in our own mind, it will be in our work, as also in the whole society.
6. Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?
It is definitely the challenge to harmonise the operation as a whole and at the same time have a good individual approach. If we want to be successful and competitive on the labor market, we must also follow the requirements that the one is expecting. We can do this only if we really consider teamwork. Whereas at the same time our employees are people with special needs, it is necessary to adjust their individual needs. And reconciling this is a challenge.
The challenge is certainly professional staff. They are the ones who thrive on successful and non-inclusive work. So there our job is as much as possible to invest in additional education and training.
However, the challenge is definitely to get on the labor market, to stand next to the other companies. To persuade employers and subscribers that we are able, responsible and capable. This can be seen by anyone, only if they give us a chance. When this happens, we make wonderful partnerships and realize many successful practices.
7. What do you do to convince your colleagues to see the value in diversity management, or even more to truly get them on board?
Every start is difficult. But when we think outside the frames, it gives us a tremendous advantage. We grow and create good stories in the business field, in the social space and on the personal level. It’s definitely worth it!