Connecting Point Pty Ltd. envisions a society where people with disabilities can be recognized as people with ability to live and work. We are a company that conducts research, consulting service and training for businesses – businesses that embark their journey on driving change and leveraging the qualities and skills of people with disabilities through employment.
Why Connecting Point Started
The name Connecting Point (one that ties diverse worlds) derives from my experience in Australia. I finished a Masters degree at RMIT University in Melbourne and for a Masters research project, I worked with a local NGO that partners with the welfare service provider and the private sector that provides relevant services to people with disabilities. Through these experiences, I decided to connect all the dots of each unique struggle they may have to enable them to be who they are in an inclusive society. I saw firsthand that it is possible for us to build a workplace that embraces people regardless of disabilities.
Upon return to Japan and having worked as a Support Worker and Managing Director of Social Spice Company, I learned firsthand how incredibly difficult it is just to arrange employment for multiple people with disabilities in one company—let alone working towards an inclusive society that I once dreamed of during my studies. I contemplated a lot what a true inclusive society can look like.
This is why Connecting Point started, to reflect the voice of people with disabilities in their work and life. At Connecting Point, I have been managing highly participatory employment-related projects that work towards an inclusive society by valuing diversity and learning from differences—values, interest and disabilities. In this article, I will share with you one of our flagship projects: “Visualising Steps for Growth of People with Disabilities” (the Project, for brevity).
What is “visualising steps of growth for people with disabilities”？
This Project is a Growth Strategy Planning Workshop targeted for workplace supporters and HR departments in the corporate sector to enable them to re-imagine the “ability for work” of people with disabilities. The Workshop scheme was developed based on the quantitative research findings identified in an initial pilot phase where it was found that the higher the interest of a worker in their work, the higher the level of their work satisfaction(Abe 2020). Following the pilot work we adopted, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale to develop “steps to grow cognitive function” (hereafter the Tool), an essential part of the Workshop. Reflecting the mission of Connecting Point, this project emphasizes the potential of people with disabilities in excelling in what they can do.
The first type of dialogue is a regular exchange between the manager and the junior staff. This Workshop places emphasis upon the manager’s genuine interest in the growth of their junior staff. Rather than the menial consultation for KPIs, manager’s active listening to, and deep understanding of, their junior staff naturally generate a sense of security and two-way acceptance—a critical factor for high staff retention, job satisfaction, clearer intrinsic motivations and relationship building with the managers (Abe 2020).
Vision we aim to see through our project
The second type is a dialogue among managers. It is commonly difficult to pinpoint the area of professional development of an individual, and how it is assessed can also vary according to values and experiences of “assessors” i.e. managers. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach —and perhaps that is the interesting part of it—the diverse visions of each manager may diminish consistency in their message to the junior staff. This can potentially create a stir, bringing confusion and hindering staff from reaching their full potential. However, the Tool used in this Workshop will enable managers to ensure consistency in their message established through a cyclical dialogue, visualise where they are at on their journey, and determine the scope for improvement. Such an opportunity for dialogue will not support managers in the process of picturing the areas of growth but also will contribute to understanding the organizational capacity.
The Tool has so far impacted many workplaces, empowering them to co-learn, co-educate and co-work. The testimonials of this Workshop participants include the positive benefits of the Tool that 1) enabled the managers to stay on the same page, 2) increasing their empathy by recognizing the distinctions between staff members with and without disabilities, 3) filled the gap of their understanding of their real struggles of the staff with disabilities and 4) their effort behind the day-to-day operations. With the Tool capturing cognitive functions, the staff members can re-design and re-calibrate their path for professional development.
Our Belief: People Grow and Shine through Work
Through this project, I now have a firm belief that a person – regardless of disabilities – can grow and shine through meaningful experiences called work. Connecting Point will continue to join the dots—workplace environment and people with disabilities—by using the Tool that encourages them to grow from a ‘mere employee’ to a member of the organization who has the ability to work and share the vision to excel in their pursuit of career. I invite you to join us on this exciting journey of exploring ways to co-create a truly inclusive society.
 This phase identified the characteristics of cognizant (occupational interest and values) of people with disabilities at a start to draw on this conclusion.
Reference: Abe, Junko. (2020). “A New Approach to Maximising the Potential and Employing People with Disabilities— Visualising Steps for Growth of People with Disabilities” Management Sensor, No. 225, Pp. 32-37.
Managing Director of Connecting Point Pty Ltd.
Certified social worker and certified psychiatric social worker. Junko completed Master of Social Science from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University) in 2009 and Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences from Japan Women’s University in 2008. Junko worked as a Support Worker (employment) at Social Spice Company Pty Ltd that provides employment welfare service for people with disabilities, and then was appointed as a Managing Director. In 2015, Junko left Social Spice Company to found and lead Connecting Point Pty Ltd as a Managing Director. Connecting Point conducts research, training for businesses and consulting service for career-oriented education for Special Support School in public secondary schools in Tokyo Metropolitan Area.