A popular feature of the HKIHRM Annual Conference, the Inspiration Plenary is themed ‘Leadership with Vision’.
For the Virtual Annual Conference 2021, the Inspirational Plenary featured Chong Chan-yau, CEO of CarbonCare InnoLab and Former President of Hong Kong Blind Union.
Although blind from a young age, visual impairment has never deterred Chong from pursuing a career marked with diversity. The first blind person to take and pass the civil service recruitment exam, Chong served as an Administrative Officer in the HKSARG from 1990 to 1993. He also served as an Executive Director of Oxfam Hong Kong and a member of the Board of Directors of Oxfam International.
In the Inspiration Plenary, Chong pointed out that, while organisations often speak about the importance of diversity and inclusion, their actions often fall short of their good intentions. “Be open and bold and provide opportunities for people with disabilities,” he advised, adding because the HR function works closely with other leaders, HR practitioners are strategically placed to ensure that diversity and inclusion policies are implemented. “If the HR function is unable to think outside the box, which function can?” Chong asked.
To include more people with disabilities and build a more inclusive workplace, Chong urged HR practitioners to look beyond assumptions. For instance, people with disabilities require special facilities. “For sure, some preparation might be needed, but don’t let this be an obstacle,” he advised. With the traditional constructs of work redefined by the COVID-19 pandemic, now is an ideal time for organisations to include more people with disabilities in their workforce. Chong said hybrid and work from home practices have also created the potential for new work opportunities for disabled people. When using the services of headhunters for recruitment, Chong suggested HR practitioners could request people with disabilities to be considered for suitable positions. He also recommended that the HR function could collaborate with organisations which represent people with disabilities to promote career opportunities.
Citing the philosophy he developed while attending the Ebenezer School for the Visually Impaired, Chong said employers should focus on what disabled people can do, not what they are unable to do. The recipient of numerous awards including Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award, MBE, China Poverty Alleviation Award, and Honorary Fellowship from HKU, Chong concluded by reminding HR practitioners that human potential is varied and diverse. “Don’t overlook someone for a job because of their disability, it may well be the organisation, as well as the disabled person, who are missing an opportunity,” he said.