Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities: Yes, There are Inefficiencies, but the First Obstacle Is Cultural
The Court of Auditors recently exposed inefficiencies in the management of the Fund for the right to work of disabled persons, an instrument established more than twenty years ago to favor their employment. While it is true that inefficiencies emerge on the part of the state, on the other hand, organizations that want to include people with disabilities can already do so, addressing first of all stereotypes and prejudices, the first true obstacles to inclusion.
In a resolution of May 11, 2022, the Italian Court of Auditors provided a detailed picture of the management of the Fund for the right to work of disabled persons in the period from 2014 to 2021.
The Fund was established with Law 68/99 in order to incentivize the hiring of people with serious physical and mental disabilities, through reductions of social contribution obligations for employers. The Fund is financed by contributions made by employers for release from hiring obligations, and by spontaneous payments made by private subjects in a spirit of solidarity.
The document is very long, but I want to concentrate on the two main points here.
The first is this: the analysis of the hiring of persons with serious disabilities shows that the figures vary, and despite taking into account the various factors that may have influenced the results, the average number of hires for each employer is very far from the figure defined by legal obligations. The Fund, that is based on a mechanism of coordination between the Ministry of Economics and Finance, INPS, the Regions, and job placement centers, does not seem to function adequately, including in relation to the acquisition and management of information, that is insufficient. The Court of Auditors thus pointed to the lack of consultation between the parties in managing the Fund, inviting them to strengthen the mechanisms of coordination to make it more effective.
The second point is that the National observatory on the condition of persons with disabilities, established in 2019, that has both tasks of an advisory nature and provides technical-scientific support, has met on average twice a year, and even less during the pandemic (while its internal committee, however, has continued to operate and meet quarterly). Moreover, the Observatory has been given a very important task, the preparation of a biennial action plan for the promotion of the rights and integration of persons with disabilities, which entails the construction of a database on targeted placement, that at this point is necessary to make up for the lack of information discussed above. The Court of Auditors thus requested accelerated action on this aspect, to strengthen the role that the Fund can have in favoring the circulation of the information then aimed at support for targeted placement.
While it is true that inefficiency in relation to the management of the Fund can be identified on the part of the state, at all levels, on the other hand we must not forget that the organizational policies and practices to accommodate the work environment and include persons with disabilities are many, and also well-known. Therefore, organizations that want to integrate persons with disabilities can already do so, working both on the entire cycle of human resources (starting from recruitment and selection, where the first obstacles emerge), and on organizational culture and climate: the fear linked to lack of knowledge regarding the disability, paying more attention to what the candidate is not able to do, being dis-abled, and the related stereotypes are the first true enemies of their inclusion.
Having more coordination between the actors involved regarding Law 68/99 is certainly fundamental for employers, who suffer from the fragmentary nature of their action and the dispersion of information; but in the meantime, it is important for them to try to overcome the barriers with the managerial instruments and opportunities for learning that are already available, in order to accelerate the process of inclusion of persons with disabilities in the world of work.
 “La gestione del fondo per il diritto al lavoro dei disabili (2016-2021)”, Court of Auditors, resolution no. 9/2022/G of May 11, 2022.
 We discussed this with Consuelo Battistelli of IBM on our blog: “Neurodiversità fa rima con flessibilità: il caso IBM”, E&MPlus, November 27, 2021.