A Christmas market for people with disabilities
On 10 December it will be time for the next event: between 11 a.m. and 12 noon, the RocheAbility diversity and inclusion network will hold a panel discussion on the topic of “Diverse abilities: where do we stand?” in the auditorium of Building 1. The panel members will include both employees with disabilities and Roche managers who work with disabled people, such as Site Head Jürg Erismann, Head of GPS Teresa Graham and Head of PT Pierre-Alain Ruffieux. Afterwards, a Christmas market will be held between 12 noon and 3 p.m. in the lobby of the Building 1 auditorium, at which workshops for people with disabilities and inclusive organisations will introduce themselves and sell their products (unfortunately it will not be possible to pay with your Roche badge, so please bring cash).
“When it comes to disabled people, Switzerland is an island in Europe,” says RocheAbility Head Ursula Becker. In the EU, there are far more laws on what companies have to provide for employees with disabilities, whereas in Switzerland many things occur on a voluntary basis, she explains. This is why RocheAbility has no figures on how many Roche employees are actually affected by disabilities and which disabilities they have, for example. “We have to rely on people getting in touch with us,” Becker says. However, speaking openly about an illness or a disability often evokes feelings of shame and the employees worry that they will suffer disadvantages in their job.
They are wrong in that regard: RocheAbility has members in many different departments at the Basel site and its very role is to protect and promote the interests of employees with disabilities. The network’s objective is to create an inclusive, inviting environment at Roche by serving as a point of contact for people with disabilities, campaigning for disability-friendly working conditions, promoting communication between disabled and non-disabled people and raising public awareness of the abilities and needs of people with disabilities.
To achieve this, RocheAbility holds large events twice a year, like the upcoming Christmas market. In addition, there is a monthly network meeting, at which both internal and external speakers, such as a trainer specialising in communication with the hearing-impaired, give talks. Founded three years ago, the network now has 250 members – not just employees with disabilities but also their family members and friends, and people who are interested in the subject and want to promote inclusion at Roche.
RocheAbility is supported by the Roche Employees’ Association (AVR), which promotes the welfare of all employees and refers enquiries from employees with disabilities to the network.
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