#InclusivityAtWork: How Pan Pacific Hotels Group is changing the way we see People With Disabilities.

 

Many of us struggle with remembering names, but how many of us would take the effort to remember a group of 20 people’s names on the first day?

Well, Danial would.

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Meet Danial, a 19-year-old working at Pan Pacific Singapore’s pastry kitchen, with dreams of coaching his own football team.

Growing up with an intellectual disability, Danial often struggled to grasp concepts because his brain functions at a different frequency. However, as a valued member of the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) team at Pan Pacific Singapore, Danial finds purpose and joy in his work.

I visited Danial during one of his shifts to find out more about him.

Inching past the steel doors into the pastry kitchen, I notice a sweet boy with a gummy smile. He waved affectionately at Charis, the lady that facilitated our meeting, before shyly waving at me.

“Danial this is Natalie, she wants to write something about you and where you work, introduce yourself!”

After Charis’ prompt, his apprehension faded and he flashed me a bright smile. He led me around the kitchen, showing me his cleaning station. Armed with his trusty disinfectant and raggedy cloth, Danial started spritzing various surfaces, it was clear from the start that like most people, Danial took pride in his work.

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“I clean this two times!”

While you see Danial smiling here, there was this seriousness in his eyes and this attention to detail when he cleaned that truly mesmerized me. His work ethic was truly commendable.

I observed how he interacted with his colleagues, but what really caught my attention was his interaction with Tan Kim Mui, who is another one of the hotel’s PWDs and has worked there for 24 years. When I asked Danial what he found difficult about his job, he mentioned communication with her. But when I asked him what the best part was, he said it was talking to his friends.

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“Because she cannot talk, we must use hand signs to understand each other. Sometimes I find it hard to understand her, but I like to talk to her”

Danial communicated with Auntie Tan through various hand signals and many smiles. It seems like Auntie Tan, who has a rather stern disposition, melts at the sight of sweet Danial. Even though there was a significant communication barrier, it did not stop Danial from wanting to include everyone.

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Auntie Tan signaling to Danial to put down the cloth for the photo

There was almost this common understanding between the pair, which made their bond that much stronger. We will never see the world in their shoes, but from their unconventional way of communicating to their unspoken inside jokes, we can see that they really are, just like anyone else​.

I decided to speak to some of his superiors to get some insider detail on Danial’s work ethic and personality.

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From left to right: Supervisor Jabal, Danial, Natalie, Assistant Pastry Chef Edina, Charis

According to Assistant Pastry Chef Edina:

“Danial has a way with people. He is comfortable with telling them about his life and enjoys sharing about what made him happy”

“He has an infectious smile and is not afraid to share it with the world”

His Supervisor, Jabal believes that it is important to treat everyone the same. He does not see Danial as ​any different.

Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s hiring initiative emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and demonstrates that exercising patience in training the PWDs can make a difference in society. Sincerity is a hallmark of the Group – in the way they conduct business and build relationships with people. They believe in bringing out the best in people, as joy is in helping others find theirs.

 

Danial’s hard work actually got him promoted from the staff canteen to the pastry kitchen. When I spoke to Charis about this, she mentioned that this is their way of ensuring that the PWDs get to experience job advancement. Even though this means that more effort is required to train them again, the hotel’s management stresses on the importance of this to abolish the stigma against PWDs.

We saw how he greeted everyone and remembered their names, but there is something that goes beyond saying hello. Danial ​wanted​ to make sure that no one felt invisible. Perhaps it’s years of personal experiences and encounters that have molded his way of interacting with people with empathy and kindness. His way of reaching out to those who cross his path with sincerity is a heartwarming, true mark of character.

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