Inclusive organisations in Singapore
For people with disabilities, getting hired is half of the battle they have to face. Facing stigma and stereotypes, they struggle to find opportunities to tap into their skill set and contribute to society. However, thanks to a growing number of inclusive organisations in Singapore, more and more people with special needs are able to showcase their skills and talents at work.
From dedicated training programmes to logistical adjustments that tailor to their needs, organisations are helping employees with disabilities flourish to their full potential. Read on to find out about how these companies in Singapore are engaging a large group of differently-abled people, as well as how we can educate ourselves and build empathy for them.
1. Crunchy Teeth – Bakery offering training to people with autism
Crunchy Teeth isn’t just a low-key bakery that’s known for its brandy fruitcakes. It also teaches adults with autism basic baking skills through a hands-on internship.
In a nutshell, autism is a spectrum neurological disorder that prevents people from learning social interaction, behaviours and communication. Autism ranges from mild to severe, but regardless of where they sit on the spectrum, people with autism are often deemed socially unfit for work.
Image credit: @just.dabao
Founded by four mums with children on the spectrum, the programme at Crunchy Teeth helps people with autism develop their strengths and leverage their natural skills. During customised training sessions, they can apply what they’ve learnt in real kitchen scenarios.
Through this internship, over 70% of interns have successfully gained valuable skills, build confidence and self-esteem. Upon graduation, some remain as bakers at Crunchy Teeth while others have found jobs outside.
Address: 156 Macpherson Road, #01-01 PSL Industrial Building, Singapore 348528
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 9AM-6PM (Closed on Sundays and P.H.)
Telephone: 9648 0067
2. PLove Atelier – Leather goods handcrafted by special needs artisans
Having been around for almost a decade, Personalised Love or PLove Atelier is a design studio that serves as a welcoming community for youths with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Image credit: @ploveatelier
Despite many challenges, these students are putting their boundless creativity into designing small leather products and building a future for themselves through entrepreneurship or employment at crafting companies.
Through these elaborate training programs, many students from special needs schools in Singapore have gained valuable arts and crafts skills at the atelier. They’ve become skilful artisans with advanced knowledge who now run regular leather crafting workshops that the public can sign up for.
Address: 351 Jurong East Street 31, #02-93, Singapore 600351
Telephone: 9199 4904
3. Firmenich – Perfume company with visually impaired panellists
People with vision loss often have limited access to the workforce because employers don’t think they can perform even the basic tasks. However, Firmenich – a perfume conglomerate that’s been creating fragrances for brands like Gucci and Armani – relies heavily on blind panellists to assess its products.
Image credit: @crazy_miki
Through training, these employees are able to familiarise themselves with the job scope and work procedures. They manage to operate digital tools to log their data and even work from home.
On top of that, to ensure safety and productivity for its employees, Firmenich Singapore has rearranged the workspace layout, put new standard operating procedures in place, and implemented a buddy system. Not only did these adjustments help the sensory panellists perform better at their jobs, but they also blazed the path for other companies to work towards inclusivity.
Address: 10 Tuas West Road, Singapore 638377
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 8.30AM-5PM (Closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and P.H.)
Telephone: 6347 2888
4. Professor Brawn – Cosy cafe with special needs staff
Swap the rooftop bar for a quaint bistro this weekend and visit Professor Brawn – a hidden gem that’s known for its hearty and affordable Western dishes. Its two locations in the North and South are both run by people with intellectual and hearing disabilities.
Image credit: @theartfacultysg
Despite their challenges, they do whip up some of the crispiest fish and chips. Swing by for brunch and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how juicy their steak and eggs are.
At Professor Brawn, full-time employees and trainees with disabilities work alongside more senior staff to ensure the operation runs smoothly. Riding on the success of its first outlet, the cafe opened a second one in 2018 where even more people with disabilities get to show off their cooking skills.
Full list of Professor Brawn outlets
5. Uniqlo – At least 1 staff with intellectual disabilities per outlet
Through a partnership with the APSN Delta Senior School, students with disabilities have been thriving at Uniqlo in many positions from front to back of house.
Image credit: Uniqlo Singapore
Senior year students master the basics of a retail job at a dedicated Uniqlo training space on campus prior to working at an actual store. After they become full-time employees, they’ll also find the support they need through Uniqlo’s buddy system – where they get paired with a store manager.
As of this year, Uniqlo Singapore has over 30 employees with disabilities who perform all types of jobs, from managing the stock room and running items to serving customers.
Besides giving people job opportunities, Uniqlo also partners with Community Chest and the Asian Women’s Welfare Association to donate new clothes to underprivileged students.
Full list of Uniqlo outlets
Working towards an inclusive culture for people with special needs
In a perfect world, everyone would be able to pursue their dreams regardless of disabilities. Though we’re not quite there yet, many of these differently-abled people are going against the stereotypes by upgrading their skills – with the help of many inclusive organisations.
These businesses provide people with disabilities the opportunities to recognise their talents and apply their strengths in fields that are best suited to them. On top of that, their initiatives also pave the way for more companies to strive towards building a more accepting culture at work.
As for those of us who want to help break down stigmas, sharing stories and raising awareness are ways to build a more understanding and accepting society. To explore a wide pool of inspiring stories conveniently at one spot, check out One Story – an initiative by the National Library Board (NLB).
With stories available in our four languages – English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil – greater awareness of those with disabilities can be shed across race and language. No matter what language you wish to consume books, eBooks and even audiobooks in, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of the less privileged community at your own pace.
Image adapted from: NLB
One of the stories in this project is Razi, written in Malay by Dr Sa’eda Buang. It draws attention to a discriminatory society with little empathy towards people with autism. It also depicts the struggles that parents of children with autism go through, and the unconditional love they have for them.
Image adapted from: NLB
Find Razi and more inspiring stories under the “One Story – the National Reading Movement” section on the NLB Mobile app.
Here’s to hoping that we can raise empathy for the handi-capable community, one story at a time.
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