Career Moves Identifies More than 4,000 Jobs for Individuals with Disabilities
Client: Career Moves
Firm: Cerha Hempel Speigelfeld Hlawati, Lex Mundi member firm for Austria
Sectors: Disabilities, Workforce
Issues: Governance, Partnership and Financial Agreements
In Austria, roughly 8% of the total population is deemed to have a severe disability. Of that number, 13% live in poverty, a figure more than double the national percentage. The Austrian welfare system places individuals with disabilities in distinct school systems and specialized workplaces which are normally subsidized and separated from the conventional labor market. While the system was designed to assist those with disabilities, there is an inherent stigma within the classification process, causing many people with handicaps to remain unemployed despite efforts to avoid such stigmatization.
Gregor Demblin, an innovative social entrepreneur, felt this stigmatization first hand after a severe diving accident left him paralyzed and permanently confined to a wheel chair. In 2009, Demblin launched Career Moves, Europe’s first online job platform to provide an easy and effective way for people with disabilities to assimilate into conventional labor markets. Career Moves serves as an online job platform that simultaneously incorporates the needs of disabled workers, creating a centralized and inclusive portal for all Austrian job seekers.
CHSH Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati, the Lex Mundi member firm for Austria, has been assisting Demblin on a pro bono basis since the earliest stages of Career Moves. CHSH has provided Demblin with legal support on a host of different issues which established the company’s strong legal framework and allowed for valuable partnerships with banks, large international private companies, and other employers.
Dr. Benedikt Spiegelfeld, a Senior Partner at CHSH, stated that the firm’s work with Demblin has fostered a deep understanding among his colleagues of the daily problems and difficulties people with disabilities face, particularly when unemployed. As Dr. Spiegelfeld describes, CHSH’s work with Demblin and similar pro bono initiatives have allowed young associates to gain unparalleled impactful experience: “Working with people who fall outside ‘normal society’ is the most meaningful and important method from which our young associates can learn. These types of clients are much more dependent on the work that we do than our normal clientele. It is extremely decisive whether you achieve your goals for these clients because our work enables them to live or to live better. Beyond the legal experience, our young associates are touched by the faith and situation in which people are able to endure.”
Today, Career Moves offers over 4,000 jobs for people with disabilities and has established employment partnerships with major companies such as McDonald’s, Ikea, and Starbucks. Each year, Career Moves advises up to 1,000 companies on integration strategies for people with handicaps. Recently, Demblin’s team worked with McDonald’s Austria on an HR plan that aims to offer 300 jobs for persons with disabilities within the next two years. In addition to their advisory role, Career Moves partners with several organizations that conduct trainings and workshops on how to include handicapped people in the workplace. The Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs has also become a key collaborator and funder of Career Moves, broadening their scope and gravity of impact as well as enabling similar programs to emerge.
Demlin was elected to the Ashoka fellowship for social entrepreneurs in 2013 and received the 1st European Award for Social Entrepreneurship and Disability given by the European Network for Corporate Social Responsibility and Disability in conjunction with the European Commission. A recent partnership with the Austrian Unemployment Agency and other popular career portals is projected to significantly increase the number of job opportunities for people with disabilities. Career Moves’s innovative model has been so successful that they are looking at expansion opportunities and intend to create similar platforms and support systems in other European countries, particularly focusing on opening offices in Ireland and Germany within the next five years. Impact: Through the pro bono work of CHSH, thousands of people with disabilities are finding job opportunities and eliminating stigmas.