One social enterprise in Korea has a peculiar sight. In any given minute, the sound of employees’ laughter fills the air. Confused visitors soon find that nobody is telling jokes, but there is a logical reason for joy. That’s because POSWITH employs people with disability who are marginalized members of society and has a corporate culture that encourages them to laugh at least once every minute, read more than two books a month, and be grateful for life three times a day.
Founded in 2007, POSWITH is the first of four social enterprises established by giant steelmaker POSCO. The other three are POSecohousing, POSPlate, and Songdo SE. Together, these social enterprises have hired hundreds of people with disability.
POSWITH is a kind of work integration social enterprise with over 30% of its workforce made up of disabled employees. July numbers show that the company currently employs 179 disabled people, or 53% of its 339 workers.
The social enterprise provides POSCO with a wide range of office support, including information technology, general administration, personnel management and welfare-related services. It operates a cleaning centre to wash work clothing and other fabric materials used by POSCO employees.
“The company extends sufficient financial support to its physically disabled employees who need special equipment to carry out work,’’ explained a POSWITH spokesman in The Korea Times. “We also laid our tactile paving inside the factory for the visually-impaired and installed an array of facilities for physically-handicapped employees.”
“Besides our employee-friendly workplace, our corporate culture is what we are most proud of. Both able-bodied and disabled employees are considerate of each other’s needs and work side by side,” he added.
To support workers, employees have access to personalized career counseling and mentoring services to help them fulfill their full potential.
The company revealed plans to turn employees with disability into skilled labors. “We will not only hire the disabled, but also train them to become experts in what they do. Then, we will become a truly exemplary social enterprise loved by employees and the local community,” the spokesman said.
POSWITH has also been active in the community to support disabled people and low-income families. The firm signed a memorandum of understanding with 16 schools and other organizations for the handicapped in Pohang to provide financial and non-financial support.
Photo from POSWITH.
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