Disability inclusions: Some bright spots, but most have a long way to go

Mehta, 54, had a locomotive disability in his left leg due to polio infection from the age of two. Life was difficult because Mehta had to undergo five surgeries to correct his leg and there was no stable work. But after joining Accenture in 2006, things changed for the better. Mehta, now a procurement category manager, said Accenture had given him plenty of training and promoted him twice.

Balachandra Hegde, 48, lost his left leg at the age of 14 in 1987, when a blade of a lawn mower that spins at 2,500 RPM flew off due to a technical error and cut off his leg. Hegde, who is vice president and lead of software at Wells Fargo, says the workplace is changing.

“Companies now have an equal opportunity policy. They are much more inclusive and understand the needs of individuals with special abilities. Success depends on a person’s motivation and initiative, “said Hegde, who has worked with JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs in the past.

Mehta and Hegde should consider themselves lucky. Most private sector companies still have a long way to go to be included in their system. In March of this year, in fact, only one or less of the five companies employed LGBTIQ + and PWD people, according to a survey by Jobs Portal.

Experts say there are a number of myths surrounding the recruitment of PWDs, requiring more sick leaves than not being able to meet their performance standards. These, however, are not supported by data

This is despite the fact that the data shows that companies working successfully towards disability have also achieved real financial benefits. For example, a study by Accenture Research in the United States found that such companies were selling 2.9 times faster and growing their profits 4.1 times faster than their peers.

Most companies do not have a definite plan for hiring PWDs, as the latest official data available to them from the 2011 census shows that the country has 26.8 million people, or 2.2% of the population. The ratio may seem small, but keep it in mind – it is more than the entire population of Australia and a number of European countries, and therefore, significantly more than ignoring or refraining from contributing to the Indian economy.
Some large companies in India say that there has been a definite change of mindset, and they are hiring PWDs and making their workplaces disability-friendly.

Vidya Lakshmi, Executive Vice-President and Head of HR, Wells Fargo India and the Philippines, said, “This is a significant size of talent pool for any organization, so the business case is straightforward in terms of both talent attraction and business value. Perspective. “

Wells Fargo says it started hiring PWDs in 2017 and the number has increased significantly since then.

Wells Fargo employs them in mainstream roles that contribute to the growth of the company across different lines and levels of business – from technology, operations to human resources and risk.

In 2013, SAP Labs India launched the ‘Autism at Work’ program, which prioritizes the recruitment of differently qualified applicants. “By prioritizing neurodiversity, we are building a more inclusive workplace,” said Sindhu Gangadharan, Senior Vice-President and Managing Director, SAP Labs India.

Through ‘Project Saksham’, Diageo India is providing long-term support for the employment and development of people with special abilities in its supply chain functions. Arif Aziz, Chief Human Resource Officer, Diageo India, said, “We have 40 specialized personnel in our four manufacturing units. ‘Project Saksham’ has helped them build confidence, improve soft skills and give these workers the opportunity to contribute to the production process. “

Accenture says it is hiring and growing people with specialized skills and advanced technology to create a barrier-free workplace. IT Major provides assistive technology as well as any ergonomic adjustments that such employees will need to facilitate their lives and work. The company also has an Accessibility Center of Excellence, where people can choose the right kind of capability devices they need after their experience.

Lakshmi C, Managing Director and Lead (Human Resources), Accenture in India, said, “We have created internship programs that work with ecosystem partners, including nonprofits, to increase employment among people with disabilities and help individuals increase their skills. To make people with disabilities employable for the digital economy.

However, despite the efforts, the agencies highlight that there are challenges to PWD participation in the workforce. Wells Fargo’s Lakshmi said, “Skilled PwD’s database is not centralized, so space travel has been increasing year by year.

Anita Iyer Narayan, managing trustee of the unit, said there was a need for sensitivity towards competent individuals across all stakeholders. “We can only use standard guidelines to ensure that places are accessible. Most international companies are making an effort to at least make sure their premises and workshops are accessible and ready for rent. However, there is a lack of qualified candidates due to lack of investment in training and the need for inclusive and inclusive education. ” Some are working towards the inclusion and empowerment of people with special abilities.

Some HR experts say there is an added benefit to hiring PWDs – they are less likely to quit their jobs, as opportunities are currently limited. Also, PWDs who hold senior positions are a great source of inspiration for others. Their struggle and success story sends a message that the organization cares for its people. That elusive gain is priceless.

(With input from Gita Nair in Pune)

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