Hager Jemel: “The Handi Day helps create a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion at EDHEC”
For many years now, EDHEC Business School has been committed to offering high-quality, close-knit support to students with disabilities. As part of this commitment, the School hosted the ninth edition of the Handi Day on its Lille campus on Thursday 30 November. Held every year and organised jointly with EDHEC’s Music’all student association, the Handi Day seeks to raise students’ awareness of disability. The event features a round table and various stands run by companies and student associations with the aim of presenting their commitments and initiatives in the area of disability. Since 2019, Hager Jemel, Director of the Diversity & Inclusion Chair has led a round table or a workshop that brings together professionals, researchers and student association members. The goal is to provide students with an insight into the real situation of people with disabilities in the professional world.
EDHEC has been organising the Handi Day since 2014. But what role does the Chair play in this type of event and particularly with regard to this year’s theme of “From integration to inclusion: placing disability at the heart of organisations’ strategies”?
Throughout the year, EDHEC coordinates events related to issues of diversity and inclusion, such as the day at the start of the academic year devoted to raising awareness of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), the Springboard for Diversity and Inclusion event or the Handi Day. Drawing on its expertise, the Diversity & Inclusion Chair provides an organisational framework for these high-profile events, in order to give students the keys to understanding all of the subjects tackled. We furnish our academic expertise, invite specialists and offer moments for exchange and educational sharing, such as round tables or workshops.
For the Handi Day, the interactive format of the round table offers an ideal configuration. It enables us to question professionals or association members directly regarding the construction of disability policies within companies, their good practices or the tools already available to respond to the expectations of employees with disabilities. For this ninth edition, the professionals invited notably presented their companies’ latest technological advances. For example, Derya Aydogdy, Handicap Officer at Vinci, presented an exoskeleton designed for people with musculoskeletal disorders and which is suited to jobs in the construction industry. Initially designed for people with disabilities, the device was later used more widely and made available to all workers requesting it, in order to reduce the physical strain of certain tasks and to prevent health problems. This example shows how giving consideration to a particular need may lead to a solution that benefits a wider population and contributes to the well-being of employees more generally.
The round table organised for this ninth edition brought together companies like Auchan, Société Générale and Vinci, but also students from EDHEC’s Music’All association. Why is it important to have these various stakeholders discuss disability issues together?
During the round table, I try to provoke a frank exchange between all the stakeholders and thus trigger a debate. As part of the discussion, student members of the Music’All association and professionals present their actions designed to promote inclusion for people with disabilities, along with their views concerning a managerial stance open to diversity. I think it’s important for the companies to dialogue with students, rather than simply coming to present their actions. It helps the companies to demonstrate their engagement in the area, their expectations and their vision of inclusion. The roots of this approach also lie in one of the Chair’s missions, namely to create a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion at EDHEC, both from an individual and collective standpoint.