An overwhelming majority of the Indian private and public sector companies lack accountability metrics, effectiveness, and policy-oriented actions when it comes to People with Disabilities (PwD), reveals a new study.
As many as 50% of business leaders from public sector companies and 27% from Indian private sector companies say they do not have fair PwD policies within their organisations, it says.
However, MNCs lead the inclusion mandate in India Inc.
The study, titled ‘Embracing All Abilities’, launched by Randstad India in partnership with Randstad RiseSmart, the global talent mobility solutions provider and knowledge partner Vocallea, found close to 65% of the business leaders who were part of this in-depth study opined that their organisations have policies to include PwDs.
Of this, the biggest chunk comes from MNCs (50%), whereas, only about 19% are from Indian private sector companies and 4.5% are from the public sector companies.
On the other hand, as many as 67% of respondents from Indian public sector companies and 55% from Indian private sector companies mentioned that inclusion is present, but NOT mandated in their goals.
Also, only a very small percentage (17%) of the business leaders from the public sector companies mentioned that their goals are aligned with inclusion. On the other hand, 53% of MNC leaders have aligned inclusion with their business goals.
Are employers providing accommodations for including PwD?
The data from the study regarding accommodation also highlights that holistic inclusion is yet to become the norm in India Inc.
As per the respondents, basic necessities for PwD, such as accessible toilets, technical aids, and appropriate seating arrangements were present in only less than 25% of the workspaces, and as per 17% of the respondents, any kind of accommodation was entirely absent in their workplaces.
This shows that even though intentions exist with organisations for inclusion, the roll-out of policies is incomplete, with many gaps that need to be filled.
At what levels are people with disabilities hired?
When it comes to conscious PwD hiring, most of these happen at the junior (29.84%) and middle level (23.27%). Their presence in the organisational structure of the company decreases in moving towards senior and management roles in the hierarchy, says the study.
Are employers using external resources to move ahead?
According to the quantitative survey, 27.2% of business leaders say that their organisations are collaborating with external groups to improve their inclusion of PwD.
Although this is a positive trend that organisations can consider, a majority (43%) mentioned that they do not do this.
A crucial role performed by NGOs is to upskill PwD to make them eligible for the job market. This is an area that demands much stronger involvement from employers, to improve employability, as well as design stronger training, and on-boarding policies internally.
Training and sensitisation
Currently, many organisations have training programmes designed around inclusive behaviour. However, conversations with HR Leaders reveal that there is not yet much emphasis on PwD as part of such training, though the quantitative data is more positive in this regard.
42% of the business leaders mentioned that sensitisation programmes include training on working with PwD in their organisations.
What hampers faster organisational inclusion of PwD?
As per the report, the obstacles are both at hiring and onboard level, as well as at work. These include:
Hiring & Onboarding:
- PwDs considered only for junior/back-end roles
- Low empathy and poor understanding of onboarding needs, e.g. time taken to understand the functioning of a software
- Lack of assistive devices (e.g. screen readers, captions)
- Poor physical infrastructure (e.g. ramps, seating, common areas access, washrooms)
- Inadequate medical benefits especially for less understood conditions
Overall behavioural patterns:
- Exclusion from informal interactions
- Colleagues' focus on their inadequacies
- Intrusive questions
- Not considered for growth opportunities
“While many companies in India are still working towards creating inclusive workplaces, we believe that by fostering positive role models, investing in necessary infrastructure & accommodation facilities, and implementing effective policies and legal frameworks, we could fast-track significant progress in this area,” Viswanath PS, MD & CEO, Randstad India, said.
He added that while policies and infrastructure for PwDs are important to achieve true inclusion, organisations must also focus on non-discrimination and create a level playing field to acknowledge and leverage the immense value that PwDs can bring to the table.
Viswanath also said that leaders who model PwD and other forms of inclusion through their own behaviour and goals demonstrate the organisation's commitment to these values and act as ambassadors for the desired workplace culture. But while it is encouraging to see some companies actively stressing on PwD inclusion by collaborating with external experts, there is still a long way to go.