Great Place to Work’s first ever charity partner supports people with intellectual disabilities to lead active and fulfilled lives

From very small beginnings as the Walkinstown Association for People with an Intellectual Disability, Walk has grown to employ 200 full and part-time staff who work to empower those with disabilities to live self-determined lives in an equal and inclusive society.

Walk is grounded in the belief that everyone who wants to work, have a job and a career can do so. The charity’s role is to facilitate individuals to fulfil their employment and career aspirations by supporting them to realise their potential, access opportunities and build their own natural supports.

“Great Place to Work is about building a workplace culture where everyone feels included, which is why we are thrilled about our newest partnership with Walk,” says Great Place to Work marketing coordinator Fernanda Pinto Godoy. “We believe this partnership will be a powerful force for change and a way to create a more inclusive and accessible workplace for all. Together with Walk we want to actively empower people with disabilities to reach their full potential and create a world where diversity and inclusion are not just ideals but a reality in the workplace.”

“This is a fantastic partnership,” says Walk deputy chief executive Catherine Kelly. “We are always looking for partners like Great Place to Work who are interested in diversity. This partnership opens up lots of employers across the country to us.

“We already have a number of pre-employment programmes such as the Owl programme with the Houses of the Oireachtas, which is the first programme of its kind in any parliament in the world. We have programmes in Tallaght University Hospital and Pfizer as well. They take on and support individuals to learn about the world of work. Afterwards we support them on their path into employment, with the host organisations employing them in many cases.”

Only about 15 per cent of people with intellectual disabilities are working. Imagine what’s missing from the workforce at a time of such labour shortages

Employers stand to gain as well. “People with intellectual disabilities are the most removed from the labour market,” Kelly explains. “Only about 15 per cent of people with intellectual disabilities are working. Imagine what’s missing from the workforce at a time of such labour shortages. People with intellectual disabilities are capable of doing fantastic work. Also, by employing people with intellectual disabilities other people in the workplace open up about their own issues. It helps to create something valuable for everybody involved.

“We are looking to work with likeminded companies and organisations with a nurturing culture who want to support people who are so marginalised in society.”