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‘My name is Sibel, and I am more than my disability’

Overcoming prejudices As a young woman who holds down a successful job as a sourcer at IT company ICT, Sibel Kocakaya is not limited by her disability in any way. In fact, ICT is very happy with her and sees her as a huge asset to the company. The Employers’ Service Desk (WerkgeversServicepunt) Rijnmond can take the credit for making the match.

“Sibel is a smart and independent woman who has really added value to our organization,” says Hans Rademakers, Recruitment Team Manager at ICT Automatisering. “Sibel focuses totally on what she can do. And that is exactly what our company’s policy is all about: employing people and encouraging them to make the most of their talents. We all have our strengths and weaknesses; the only difference is that in Sibel’s case, her ‘weakness’ is visible to others.” A disability has nothing to do with performance ‘The left half of my body is partially paralyzed, says Sibel. ‘If my disability doesn’t restrict me in my work at all, why would it bother anyone else? As Hans said, we all have our limitations, and I happen to be affected by a medical condition. People will often judge you on that basis, but I refuse to accept that: my disability has nothing to do with the way I perform. It’s such a pity that people are often led by their prejudices. Even before they’ve met or spoken with someone with a disability, they already think less of that person simply for that reason. I really consider that a missed opportunity.” Strong and warm personality Sibel works 32 hours a week as a sourcer. She works part-time by choice; this has nothing to do with her disability. Sourcer is a new role within ICT. “Sourcing means looking for people who are interested in working for us,” Sibel explains. “It involves actively seeking out potential candidates prior to the actual recruitment process.” Hans adds: “We were looking for an outspoken person with a strong personality who also comes across as warm, welcoming, and accessible. It so happened that Sibel ticked all the boxes. We focused on her talents during the selection process for her position. She’s currently not only doing the work of a sourcer, but is also assisting the marketing department and the recruitment team. Sibel: ‘I like having my own projects that I get to run myself. It’s part of what keeps the job fresh and interesting.” Win-win situation According to Hans and Sibel, it’s a win-win situation: ICT has found itself an excellent employee in Sibel, while she has landed a senior position at her own level that gives her the challenge she’s looking for. ICT and the WerkgeversServicepunt (Employers’ Service Desk) Rijnmond (WSPR) worked together to find a creative solution which would benefit all parties involved. Hans: “We were looking to hire someone since business was going well, but we also had to be aware of the costs. I also think it’s important to give someone who is physically challenged a chance to get a serious job, so that was part of our plan all along. The Work Participation Act (Participatiewet) provides for a financial incentive for companies that hire people with disabilities, which was a nice bonus. That’s how I met Meral Karasu, an employment inclusion consultant at the WSPR (WerkgeversServicepunt).’

Photo credit: Joep Boute / Rotterdam City Council

Completely capable Meral selected a number of candidates, one of whom was Sibel: “Two candidates were eventually invited for an interview with Hans. You need to have chemistry with someone, and any disability a person might have has nothing to do with that. With Sibel I felt a connection straight away. Hans: “The difference with the other candidate was that Sibel focused on the things she can do.” Sibel says she had her doubts about the position at first: “I initially didn’t think it was the right job for me, but I ended up coming around completely.” I felt that Hans is a manager who is confident that I’m fully capable of doing my job. To me that’s very important, and he turned out to be right.” Sibel was hired on a trial basis for a period of two months. Both sides were so pleased that ICT then offered her a 12-month contract. Contact If you have any questions after reading this article or are interested in learning more about our services, please contact the Employers’ Service Desk (WerkgeversServicepunt) Rijnmond via www.wsprijnmond.nl or call +31 (0)10 7008989. You can also contact Meral Karasu at meral.karasu@uwv.nl. Participation Act The Participation Act (Participatiewet) came into force on January 1, 2015. It was introduced to replace the Work and Social Assistance Act, as well as parts of the Sheltered Employment Act, and the Young Disabled Persons Act (Wajong). The aim of the Act is to assist people who are fit for work but who, on account of their disability, need assistance in finding work above the minimum wage level with regular employers. The Social Agreement (Sociaal akkoord) provides that a total of 125,000 guaranteed jobs must be created by the end of 2026: 100,000 by private employers and another 25,000 by the government. A wide range of tools and resources are available to fill these guaranteed jobs, e.g. contracting, wage subsidies, job coaching, trial placement, and workplace adjustments. The team of employment inclusion consultants informs and advises employers in the Rijnmond region. The Editors would like to thank Lilian Suurmeijer, Editor for the Rotterdam City Council for conducting the interview and writing this article.