Article: Including the ‘differently-abled’ talent


Including the ‘differently-abled’ talent

Are organizations today open enough to include ‘differently-abled’ talent? Or is this still a long shot?
Including the ‘differently-abled’ talent

A UN report revealed that India is home to over 100 million disabled citizens and only 100,000 are successful in obtaining employment with industry


Disability sensitization workshops need to be conducted with the entire team and managers once disabled talent is on-boarded


International Labour Organization (ILO) predicts that in India, 50 per cent of the population would be lesser than 28 years by 2030 which could provide a competitive advantage considering the demographic dividend. Government of India is embarking on journey to skill a talent pool of 500 million who would be industry ready by 2022.  However, presently the industry continues to face high attrition, scarcity of qualified talent, rising wage bills and a dis-engaged workforce. To tackle this, organizations today can explore sourcing non-conventional talent such as persons with disabilities or who are differently-abled and embark on a journey of initiating a culture of inclusion. IBM, PwC, TCS, Wipro, Pepsico, ITC Hotels, KFC, CCD, Tata Steel, Titan and many more are some of finest examples of organizations who have embraced diverse workforce and have employed significant numbers of persons with disabilities as part of promoting their inclusive workforce agenda. A UN report revealed that India is home to over 100 million disabled citizens and only 100,000 are successful in obtaining employment with industry in India. However, contrary to this, the Indian official figures indicate that only 5 per cent of Indian citizens are disabled.

The HR community openly acknowledges that it is business imperative to hire disabled talent as various research studies showcase that it may enable organizations to manage rising attrition, create a loyal workforce and improve morale of the employees. HR leaders along with business leaders can consider implementing the following before they embark on the journey of absorbing talent with disability in their workforce. 

Ability workshops with top management: Expert consultants or competent NGO partners can conduct workshops with organization’s top management comprising of recruitment leaders, departmental heads, etc. and focus on building a business case for engaging talent with disabilities. This workshop can also stress on benefits of hiring disabled talent, how they can add value to the organization’s overall business objective as well as how such talent can add value to other employees.

Creation of diversity & inclusion council: This council would not only promote gender and other aspect of diversity but it could significantly focus on sourcing talent with disability. Organization readiness in terms of supporting physical & IT infrastructure (i.e.: ramp for wheel chair employees, windows screen reader for blind/low vision, converser tools for hearing impaired, etc) that would enable disabled talent to perform optimally can be discussed as a part of the agenda. Designing of D&I Council can either be done internally or through expert consultancy or an experienced NGO partner can be hired to formulate strategy consisting of action plans which can be implemented during short term and long term. Dashboards can be devised which can monitor and track implementation, and present MIS report to top management at periodic intervals. 

Modification in organization policies and procedures: Organizations can actively promote inclusion by altering its policies of absorbing cost of modification of physical/IT infrastructure which is required for disabled employees to perform their job role instead of particular strategic business unit(s) to account for this associated cost. Policies such as providing free pick up and drop facilities to disabled employees is already done by companies such as Wipro, Accenture, IBM, and many more.

Partnering with NGOs for sourcing talent with disabilities: A quick search on Google would lead you to identify many NGOs who are in business of training persons with disability for industry-readiness. EnAble India has pioneered this domain and has placed several thousands of persons with disabilities in multi-nationals, mid-size companies, retail, hospitality, IT, ITES and many more sectors. Their expertise lies in providing workplace solutions, job analysis, role mapping and imparting various trainings to persons with disabilities, enabling them to gear up for the industry. 

Setting internal recruitment target for disabled candidates: PepsiCo has an internal target for hiring talent with disability. Many companies such as Accenture, Wipro, ITC Hotels also have soft targets which is specified in KRAs of all their hiring managers. Most IT/ITES companies who have initiated their inclusion journey also have targets for placing over 60 per cent disabled talent on client billable projects.

Job analysis & role mapping: Few NGOs such as EnAble India in partnership with the corporate industry has already conducted a job analysis which identified entry level roles and mapped each role which can be performed by disabled talent according to their impairment (i.e.: movement impaired, seeing impaired, speech impaired, hearing impaired). Enable Academy promises to offer the industry one-stop solution for hiring and training talent with disabilities.

Disability sensitization workshop: Once disabled talent is on-boarded into the organization, disability sensitization workshops need to be conducted with the entire team and managers. Such workshops would concentrate on disability etiquettes such as inclusion activities, terminology, assistance methodology, etc. While companies in United States, Europe, Australia etc. have championed this cause, the inclusion journey has just begun in India. However, global challenge of overcoming mindset remains unanimous for embracing talent with disability. The secret to building such an inclusive workforce is to have an open mind which will attract win-win solutions for all. India Inc. is one of the few outstanding organizations that has emerged as a role model and has demonstrated inclusive workforce not out of mere act of corporate social responsibility but because they have ingrained this ideology in their organization. 

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Topics: Diversity, Recruitment

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