Crown Resorts’ Damir Kucan on the 2016 Harkin Summit

Tue 24 January 2017

Stephanie Gunn, Kevin Figueiredo, Tom Harkin, Suzanne Colbert, Damir Kucan and Nicole Vongdara at the 2016 Harkin Summit

In December 2016, Damir Kucan, Executive General Manager of Human Resources at Crown Perth was invited to attend the inaugural Harkin International Disability Employment Summit in Washington. Damir has generously shared his insights, key learnings, and highlights from the Summit with us.

What did you intend to gain from the conference?

I wanted insight into disability employment on a global scale. To see what initiatives were being implemented by other employers, and to gain further education to benefit and enhance our existing disability employment program, CROWNability, at Crown Resorts.

Did you achieve your goals?

Yes, my goals were met. The Summit brought together a range of participants from business, government and providers to discuss and develop best practice approaches to disability employment. The Summit was a first of its kind and examined various topics related to disability employment, including developing the business case; government policy; matching skills to jobs; innovation; and raising expectations for individuals and their communities

What were the key learnings or take outs?

Crown is advancing well in developing a disability confident organisation, and we need to continue working to improve our recruitment model and raising awareness.

What was the highlight for you?

We were one of five Australian organisations (the others being Woolworths, PWC, The National Disability Insurance Agency and the Australian Network on Disability) invited to attend together with over 140 representatives from 31 countries.

We (Crown) received positive feedback on our efforts to employ people with disability and the establishment of a pilot Hospitality Disability Network. Leaving the summit left me with the impression that we are on the right track with our approach but as always there is room for improvement. Valuable contacts were also made with other companies, particularly the Australian participants, and learnings from the Summit will assist in enhancing our program.

What role do senior managers and leaders play in supporting access and inclusion for people with disability?

Senior managers and leaders have a responsibility to create working environments that are inclusive, accessible and free of discrimination. CROWNability encourages this through ongoing consultation with managers and leaders, training and continuing support.

How important is consultation with people with disability in discussions about access and inclusion?

Discussions and consulting with people with disability helps develop and improve our organisation’s understanding of the following:

  • The potential barriers people with disability experience in accessing functions, facilities and services.
  • Some of the possible strategies that could be implemented to overcome barriers.
  • Identify potential employment opportunities.
  • Improve our awareness on how to work with people with disability.

Why is access and inclusion for people with disability so important for Crown?

As the largest single-site private sector employer in Victoria and Western Australia, Crown has recognised the need to become a leader in providing meaningful employment opportunities to Australians with disability. Attracting people with disability into employment also means assisting our business. We will attract a broader customer base and this will increase our customer loyalty, strengthen our workplace morale and attract and retain the best candidates from a wider talent pool. It also gives us a competitive edge.

How do you intend on applying the key learnings now you are back on home soil?

Our aim is to become an organisation that is disability confident, where employees with disability not only access equal opportunity to meaningful employment, but also feel supported in their roles and encouraged to progress in their career in hospitality. To achieve this, our focus this year is on disability confidence training for managers as well as recruiters.

How do Australian employers compare to the rest of the world when it comes to access and inclusion?

With the help of organisations such as the Australian Network on Disability, larger Australian employers are progressing in the area of access and inclusion. It is a journey of continuous improvement and through our work at Crown, we hope to create a ripple effect by encouraging other employers, particularly in the hospitality industry, to progress in this area.

In Western Australia, Crown is piloting a Hospitality Disability Network of likeminded employers, service providers and industry bodies within the hospitality industry. The goal is to encourage the sharing of knowledge, resources and infrastructure; to collectively raise awareness of access and inclusion to ultimately increase employment participation of people with disability in the hospitality sector.

Globally, what do you think is the most successful approach to recruiting and retaining employees with disability?

A recruitment process that is free of barriers, placing the right person in the right role that is most suitable for them and ensuring that each employee experiences a meaningful and productive career. Effective post-placement support to both the manager and employee and access to outside support from Disability Employment Service Providers and JobAccess (funding for where a job is in jeopardy) is key to retaining employees.

How is CROWNability achieving this?

CROWNability focuses on five key areas: Disability Employment Service Providers, pre-employment preparation, barrier-free recruitment processes, post-placement support and community engagement.

In partnership with an employee’s Disability Employment Service provider, we place significant emphasis on providing effective post-placement support to both the employee and their manager, which has resulted in high retention rates of our CROWNability employees.

Our CROWNability Action Plan, Disability Employment Policy and related procedures help us to focus our resources on delivering on our ambition to become an inclusive organisation.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The theme that emerged from the summit was “To accelerate the employment of people with disability.” Some of the key points identified included:

  • People with disability represent a significant and underutilised sector of the international community, which could contribute to over $1 trillion in GDP.
  • People with disability have the right to access dignified employment.
  • People with disability are proven to be loyal and have much lower levels of turnover and absence.
  • Over the years, little progress has been made in this area, and we now have the opportunity to generate real change.

A huge thank you to Damir for taking the time to share his experiences and learnings of the summit. For more information on the CrownAbility program, visit Crown Perth's website.

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