Article: World Disability Day 2023: How these HR leaders enable inclusive workplaces for PWD employees

Strategic HR

World Disability Day 2023: How these HR leaders enable inclusive workplaces for PWD employees

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2023, People Matters delved into this crucial topic, seeking insights from experienced leaders in the journey towards fostering inclusivity for employees with disabilities within organizations, amidst the challenges they face.
World Disability Day 2023: How these HR leaders enable inclusive workplaces for PWD employees

Do organizations still encounter challenges in promoting inclusivity for employees with disabilities? The answer could be yes, as cultivating an inclusive workplace culture with a diverse workforce, especially in post-COVID work arrangements, can be a tough task.

On World Disability Day 2023, People Matters turned to leaders with substantial experience in creating an inclusive work culture for persons with disabilities. Read here for leadership insights into facing challenges in promoting inclusivity for employees with disabilities, the key strategies, and learnings that HR professionals can employ to foster a more inclusive workplace, addressing the unique needs of Persons with Disabilities.

Strategies for extending support for employees with disabilities in remote work mode

The work landscape underwent a significant transformation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading organizations to seamlessly adopt remote and hybrid work models. While all employees received support, reaching and assisting those with unique needs posed certain challenges. Here, we highlight effective strategies employed by organizations to support employees with disabilities, even amid challenging times.

Make CARE a core VALUE 

Shruti Tandon, Managing Director of People Enablement at Nagarro said, “Our unwavering commitment to embracing diverse perspectives and fostering inclusivity is deeply rooted in its core value of CARING. Our mission statement exemplifies this commitment, which emphasizes "making distance and difference irrelevant between people."

Sharing the effective strategies, she added, “Nagarro has implemented supportive measures to provide a support system for our colleagues with disabilities that includes:

  • The provision of necessary devices and technical support, where they utilise screen reading software, keyboard shortcuts, and screen readers in their day-to-day work activities such as joining meetings, sharing screens, etc. 
  • We also pair them, with a buddy upon joining to provide guidance and support, fostering a collaborative and inclusive work environment. This initiative ensures that employees do not face issues alone and have someone to talk to or share concerns. 
  • Our commitment extends beyond typical workplace dynamics, as we actively form diverse and equitable teams on a global scale. 
  • Flexible working hours and accessible communication platforms are integral components of our approach, ensuring that virtual communication platforms used within the organization are accessible to employees with various disabilities. 
  • Regular training sessions and awareness programs for all contribute to creating an inclusive and supportive virtual work environment.
  • Mental health and well-being support initiatives are specifically addressed along with regular check-ins to ensure ongoing support and communication about any challenges they may be facing in the remote work environment.
  • Sensitization through diversity training workshops, collaboration with clients on inclusion discussions, and monthly employee engagement activities underscore our dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion across our global community. 
  • Initiatives like the 'BiasBreakers' campaign engage a significant portion of our workforce, further promoting an inclusive and equitable world at Nagarro."

Making well-being and accessibility a top priority

Jaya Virwani, EY GDS Global Ethics, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness (DE&I) Leader underlined, “The COVID-19 pandemic led organizations the world over to infuse new styles of working. However, it brought along challenges concerning connectivity, interpersonal relations, and people’s well-being. At EY, it was vital for us to understand our colleagues' experiences — even if they were unfamiliar — to build equity in the workplace.

  • We focused heavily on working effectively, providing a one-time setup cost for home offices, assistive technology support, and accommodations for people in the virtual workplace. 
  • Our DE&I events now provide SLI support for people with disabilities. 
  • Extensive employee connections and our well-being app have ensured that well-being support is accessible to all employees.
  • All of this would not be possible if inclusiveness wasn't incorporated into our working methods. We introduced inclusive meeting guidelines to ensure a smooth meeting experience for people with disabilities. Team sensitization also played a key role in this. 
  • We also provide on-demand learning, regular communications, and multiple resources for employees to start their journey towards disability confidence."

Supporting via Personal Connect system 

Sheetal Bathija, Head of NatWest Group India Hub Controls, who is also a Sponsor for the Disability Smart Employee Led Network at the group shared, “We work in a hybrid model and it may get challenging for PWD colleagues. Therefore, we have an employee-led network i.e Disability Smart which launched a ‘Well-Connect’ Program which includes 1:1 connect sessions (multiple sessions) with PWD colleagues, and even some along with their relatives to discuss the new policies, understand support requirements, and have discussions around their physical and mental wellbeing. This program was a great hit and through it the Disability Smart workstream was able to establish a personal connection with all our PWD colleagues in the bank and support any requirements for adjustments that they needed.”

She added, “NatWest has rolled out Health & Assistive technology support which includes software and hardware support (like Audio, Mice, Keyboards & keypads, Monitors & arms and many others which support cognitive disabilities as well) through unique applications and tools to support colleagues with sight, auditory, mobility or cognitive impairment

Support on diagnosis, workplace adjustments and coaching for neurodiverse colleagues and guidance for the managers of neurodivergent colleagues.”

Regular check-ins, L&D accessibility and infrastructural support 

Rajesh Rai, Vice President of People Team and Head of Human Resources, India, GlobalLogic added, "During the pandemic, GlobalLogic seamlessly transitioned to a virtual remote setup for all employees, including those with disabilities. Numerous initiatives ensured that they not only settled in well but also performed well within GlobalLogic. Some of these were: 

  • Very regular fortnightly “Voice of Employees” connects with people with disability, 
  • Intensive & regular upskilling & reskilling sessions on various tools and systems for the job at hand,
  • Access to wheelchairs as required, reserved parking spaces, and accessible physical infrastructure such as ramps and, washrooms. 
  • Additionally, special cabs are provided for pick-up and drop-off transportation facilities.
  • In addition, what was important were manager sensitization sessions that ensured employees were supported throughout their pre to post-joining journey at GlobalLogic care and flexibility are core to our culture, and we have provided that consistently. 
  • Notably, some of our employees have even achieved victories in the Paralympic games held at the state level and we are proud of being able to support them. "

Understanding and Remedying Challenges in Real Time

Anupama Kaul, HR Leader, Cummins India shared, "At Cummins, diversity and inclusion are core company values, reflecting our deep commitment to empowering employees and encouraging them to unlock their potential, bringing their unique skills, talents, and strengths to the workplace.

Acknowledging the specific challenges faced by people with disabilities (PWDs) in a remote work setting, we conducted assessments across various roles to identify work profiles adaptable for virtual collaboration, especially in technical domains. Post identification, we provided PWD employees comprehensive support with customized assistive technologies such as screen magnifier/reader, speech, and AI-enabled text recognition solutions. Additionally, ergonomic hardware such as CapTel phones for hearing-impaired individuals, keyboards, monitors, and other office equipment was made available to ensure seamless accessibility and collaboration within the remote work environment. 

Our commitment to disability inclusion goes beyond processes, tools, and technologies. In collaboration with our WINGS employee resource group (ERG), we have established a dedicated support team to address individual needs. The team, while providing support, also focuses on sensitization programs to engage and raise awareness among employees, creating a culture of empathy and understanding."

Effective Communication and Engagement the Key 

BNY Mellon's Lucinda Wakefield, Head of DEI – India & International shared, "At BNY Mellon, all our efforts are inclusive of all employees specifically, for remote work that included supporting employees in setting up a working ecosystem remotely. However, employees with disabilities can request work from home as an accommodation based the contextual and business needs. To facilitate a productive remote work environment, we have taken several measures.

One of these measures is the provision of noise-reduction wireless headsets for our neurodiverse staff to help improve focus and attention while working remotely, ensuring that our employees can perform at their best. Additionally, we have implemented connect sessions with video for all associates, including our diverse staff. These sessions aim to enhance engagement and foster effective communication within the team. Panel discussions are conducted regularly on how to effectively communicate and engage team members with diverse abilities while working from home."

Strategies to overcome challenges in building a workplace for PWD employees

Shaji Mathew, Group Head of Human Resource Development at Infosys shared, “Workplace accessibility is at the heart of an inclusive ecosystem. We are proud that people with various disabilities choose to work at Infosys. Our employees with disability have access to roles across various domains within the organization. 

  • Dedicated employee resource group - InfyAbility, comprising employees with disabilities and their allies works to create a safe, accessible, and inclusive work environment. It supports organization efforts to address specific needs across the employee life cycle from recruitment, development, engagement, growth, and retention. InfyAbility also runs campaigns to raise awareness among employees and contributes to the design of the Company’s disability inclusion strategy.
  • Digital accessibility - At Infosys, we have a focus on specific digital accessibility principles when designing applications for people with disabilities. Infosys’ Accessibility Testing Tool (iATT) is an intelligent accessibility compliance analyzer with exhaustive features that facilitate accessibility analysis. Strengthening our efforts to ensure that our solutions are ‘accessible by design’ we have launched numerous learning certification programs for our software engineers.  An online Accessibility Lab on our internal learning platform LEX,  compliments this effort and is a treasure trove of learning courses, thought papers, blogs and more providing a holistic appreciation of digital accessibility – both challenges and solutions.  
  • L&D initiatives - Additionally, in December 2022, we launched an internship program to strengthen the talent pool of qualified persons with disabilities. This six-month internship program includes a combination of self-paced learning, leveraging our global learning platform, Infosys Springboard, mentoring by experts from a variety of technical domains in the organization and opportunities to apply this learning. "

“At Nagarro, we are dedicated to fostering an equitable atmosphere, one that goes beyond stereotypes and labels. To actualize this commitment, we actively strategize to form equitable teams on a global scale and empower each team to establish its unique equity goals. Our overarching aspiration is for Nagarro to transcend the conventional boundaries of a workplace, seamlessly integrating into the lives of its people, said Shruti

Nagarro’s strategies for fostering an inclusive culture for all: 

She added, “People want to matter, to know that their views matter and that they can contribute regardless of rank or seniority. This is something we understand and foster. Our culture and unique organizational design, characterized by agility, non-hierarchy, and an entrepreneurial spirit, is also our strategy. It attracts and retains individuals who are self-driven and deeply committed to the pursuit of excellence and we have created many sessions and even a learning platform to help Nagarrians stay on the cutting edge of knowledge while also creating a real community of friendly collaboration and exchange. We are unwaveringly focused on cultivating a distinctive culture where camaraderie, excellence, and happiness coexist harmoniously. To achieve this, we implement a variety of initiatives aimed at upskilling and retaining our valued employees. Our goal is not merely professional growth but the creation of an environment where everyone feels a deep sense of connection and fulfilment.

  • Our Neurodiversity program, Testing Pro has contributed to making Nagarro an equitable place to work. This program, expanded from Austria to India, has successfully graduated individuals from the autism spectrum, with hires excelling in various teams, such as our testing team in India
  • We run various virtual learning programs like No Lead Left Behind (NLLB), No Tech Left Behind, and NO QA Left Behind NQLB, Show and Tell, etc. for everyone at Nagarro irrespective of of their experience, location, gender or teams.
  • We now have a blind accessibility testing specialist who advises on how blind people use digital applications and therefore what can be done to make such usage more convenient for them
  • Glass Window Programme - The program begins with the senior management team and the yearly nomination of promising female leaders within the company to participate for one year in all discussions, meetings, conclaves, and task forces, and have transparent access to all information shared within the senior management group. This concept has been extended to other leadership forums and has strongly contributed to the grooming of strong leaders
  • We have implemented a robust digital platform that facilitates communication. To bring this vision to life, we are actively strategizing to assemble equitable teams across the globe and encouraging each team to set its own equity goals. Our aspiration is for Nagarro to transcend the boundaries of typical workplaces, becoming an integral part of people's lives. We are dedicated to cultivating a unique culture where camaraderie, excellence, and happiness thrive in harmony. 

In conclusion, Nagarro's holistic approach to supporting employees with disabilities in remote work and promoting inclusivity reflects a deep commitment to equity. Nagarro recognizes and addresses common challenges in promoting inclusivity for employees with disabilities. This commitment aligns with Nagarro's core value of CARING, ensuring a workplace where every voice is heard and embraced."

Jaya Virwani, EY GDS Global Ethics, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness (DE&I) Leader shared, “Some of the common challenges that organizations face concerning disability inclusion include a lack of understanding in terms of employee needs, technological challenges, and unconscious biases. However, at EY, we have deepened our understanding of diversity by acknowledging a wide range of differences to recognizing many aspects of our identities so that we can better spot and address potential inequities in our systems and processes. 

We realize that inclusive teaming and leadership are critical enablers of social equity. Some of our initiatives include 

  • A core team of partners to promote disability confidence to enable the top-down culture shift.
  • We provide sensitization training to professionals to enhance their understanding of the subject.
  • Importantly, we have tied up with NGOs/foundations to hire persons with disabilities. This has been a key feature of our commitment toward PWDs. 
  • Our Purple Champions professional network also plays a key role in ensuring that we continue to hire and support persons with disabilities across teams. 
  • EY GDS also provides reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities.
  • Sheetal highlighted common challenges encountered in promoting inclusivity for employees with disabilities, saying, “The most common challenge which NatWest Group encountered is lack of awareness. To address this challenge, we had to take a step-by-step approach.

We ran various immersion sessions to create awareness around ‘Disability’, ‘How a diverse team is more productive and innovative’, ‘Available Support / Assistive Technologies’, showcasing examples of PWD colleagues who are excelling in their work, inviting Line Managers to the monthly Employee led network (ELN) meetings where discussed various achievements of our PWD colleagues. ~73% of our India Colleagues have completed an online module on Disability Smart in 2023, which covers awareness around disability and how to recognise and manage any unconscious biases

  • We have increased our PWD numbers by 26% in 2023 – 40% of these are women. Our number of PWDs has grown by 60% over the last 3 years and continues to rise year on year.
  • We also believe that some of our programmes showcase NatWest Group’s commitment to being a truly inclusive organisation
  • Online Sign Language training was introduced on April 23 for all Indian colleagues
  • On Demand Sign Language Interpretation Support - 200+ Hours used in the past year alone
  • Conducted in three  batches, 50+ colleagues have gone through the Instructor-led Sign Language training as well
  • At NatWest Group, it is our top-most priority to create a barrier-free workplace where people feel comfortable being their true selves, and can give their best at work
  • We have ergonomically designed furniture, height-adjustable desks, and additional accessories
  • Other accessibility support includes Emergency Alarm systems, specifically designed personnel Emergency Evacuation processes for PWDs, Tactile tiles, Braille enabled switches in passenger elevators, Ramps and handrails, health & safety risk assessment by specialists
  • Support on diagnosis, workplace adjustments and coaching for neurodiverse colleagues
  • Our flagship initiatives include Aspire, a 6-month guided Professional Development Program, WellConnect– Connect sessions focusing on Physical and mental well-being, Career Development and Mentorship Program, On Demand Sign Language Support

Anjali Byce, CHRO at STL said, "We promote inclusivity for employees with disabilities is not just a task; it's a commitment to building a workplace that reflects the richness of human diversity. Common challenges often revolve around changing mindsets and dismantling ingrained biases. We addressed these through a dual approach of education and empathy. Our initiatives include comprehensive sensitization programs that extend beyond awareness to foster a true understanding of diverse abilities. This shift in mindset is pivotal in overcoming barriers to inclusion.

  • Our venture into hiring PwD employees has not only been transformative for our workforce but also a strategic investment in creating a cutting-edge, inclusive workplace.
  • Best practices dictate that inclusivity starts at the hiring stage, which is evident in our inclusive interviews with translators present. With accessibility in focus, we have incorporated charts and manuals in braille.
  • For an enhanced and more inclusive workplace, we have arranged for transportation, food and accommodation of our PwD colleagues.
  • To make our workplace more accessible, we invested in ASL classes for management and employees for better communication and expression of gratitude towards one another.
  • We also plan to implement changes, adjust the card reader heights, and create appropriate ramps.
  • We have learned that success in creating a supportive environment hinges on constant adaptation and a learning culture. 
  • Our workplace isn't just accessible physically; it's an ecosystem that accommodates the unique needs and strengths of every individual. Key initiatives include disability audits, tailored training programs, and the integration of assistive technologies. Our policies prioritize equal opportunities, ensuring that recruitment, training, and advancement are based on merit and untainted by biases. Best practices, such as inclusive interview processes and ongoing sensitization, are ingrained in our organizational DNA. At STL, our commitment goes beyond compliance; it's a dedication to fostering an environment where every individual, regardless of ability, can contribute, thrive, and be celebrated for their unique talents."

Highlighting some of the challenges, learnings and effective strategies at GlobalLogic, Rajesh said, “A common challenge is the need for sensitization and not fully realizing that diversity is power to more innovation and great impact in all ways.

Therefore, at GlobalLogic our DEI vision is that we are building an inclusive culture where everyone feels comfortable being themselves. 

  • Together, we promote equity while recognizing, valuing, and embracing differences. As a result, maintaining continuous dialogue and sensitization of our employees, including managers and supervisors, to ensure full support and success for individuals with different abilities is an ongoing effort. 
  • GlobalLogic is an equal-opportunity employer for People with Disabilities. We address them as Differently Abled, as they bring their unique strengths to us. 
  • In addition to the above ways in which we ensure our differently-abled employees are successfully assimilated into the company and do well, all our policies are gender and ability-agnostic, as we operate as an equal-opportunity employer for all. 

Prajakta Kanaglekar the Vice President of Supply Chain and Customer Experience at Flipkart exemplified, "In our commitment to fostering inclusion and diversity at Flipkart, we recognize how imperative it is to provide equal opportunities and a supportive environment for all individuals with disabilities. There can be a few challenges that come in the way of our endeavours to promote the inclusion of employees with disabilities, ranging from addressing the specific needs of PWDs to breaking the stigma and stereotypes associated with a physical disability. However, to work our way through these challenges, we launched a comprehensive programme in 2017, aimed at integrating PwDs into our supply chain ecosystem. Today, with over 2200 individuals working across various roles, including team leads, Data Entry Operators, and sorters, we have witnessed a steady increase in representation each year. Our two PwD hubs in Delhi and Bangalore, managed entirely by individuals with disabilities, exemplify our commitment to creating a workplace that embraces diversity.

To address the unique requirements of our PwD employees:

  • We initiate the inclusion process with sensitization seminars and specialized classroom training. Furthermore, we have trained 275 employees as sign-language interpreters under our 'Aarambh' programme, fostering effective communication. 
  • Additional support, such as sign-language experts, wheelchairs, and tricycles for deliveries, is tailored to cater to their specific needs as well. 
  • To ensure their safety, we have implemented emergency features on smartphones, printed emergency numbers on flashcards, and provided reflective jackets for visual identification. 

Through these initiatives, Flipkart not only creates an inclusive workplace culture but also sends a powerful message about equality and empowerment. The lessons learned from our journey include the importance of ongoing commitment, tailored support, and dispelling stereotypes. We continue to evolve our programmes to ensure that Flipkart remains a place where everyone, regardless of abilities, can thrive and contribute meaningfully to our success."

Lynette D'Silva, Head of Regional HR - India & APAC at Amdocs highlights, “Despite commendable progress in DE&I, a significant gap exists in equal opportunities for the talented population of people with disabilities (PWDs). Barriers like stereotypes, misconceptions, and accessibility issues hinder their potential. Organizations face limitations in harnessing this talent due to factors such as policies and infrastructure.

Overcoming stereotypes and biases in hiring is vital for showcasing the skills of PWDs. Creating awareness among leaders and teams about diversity and disability inclusion is critical to fostering an inclusive work environment. Addressing accessibility challenges in workplaces is crucial for creating a level playing field for PWD employees.

At Amdocs, we proudly uphold our status as an equal opportunity employer, emphasizing our commitment to inclusivity and empowerment. We leverage technology to drive positive change, particularly for PwD, breaking down barriers and providing unprecedented opportunities for inclusivity.

Our commitment is evident in concrete actions such as

  • Product Accessibility: We prioritize inclusive design principles in technological advancements, ensuring our products and services are accessible to diverse users from the earliest stages of development.
  • Digital Accessibility Solutions: As part of our “tech for good platform,” we develop innovative apps addressing specific needs and empowering individuals with disabilities.
  • Workforce Diversity through Community Engagement: Through collaborative initiatives with NGOs, we’ve initiated specialized boot camps to foster diversity. These efforts have successfully employed several individuals with different disabilities who contribute valuably across various operational roles within our company.
  • Our infrastructure facilitates the unrestricted mobility of PwD, and our leave policies, including Special Disability Leave, support inclusivity by providing time off for specific treatments. We’ve appointed a dedicated Liaison Officer to address grievances and value the voices and experiences of individuals with disabilities.
  • We are in the process of forming a “People with Disabilities Community” at Amdocs to create a supportive space for sharing experiences and shaping inclusive initiatives. We encourage all employees, whether with a disability or as allies, to participate and contribute. 

By challenging stereotypes, improving accessibility, and increasing job opportunities, we strive to create an inclusive culture and equal opportunities for people with disabilities. While progress is being made, there is still much to be done on this journey towards true inclusivity. But every long journey begins with a step.

At Amdocs, we believe in taking every step along the way together as one," concluded Lynette

Alok Agarwal, CEO & Managing Director of Brookfield Properties underlined, “At Brookfield Properties, our commitment to inclusion is a resounding call to action across our 50 MSF office portfolio in 9 cities in India. By prioritizing accessibility in the workplace, we have cultivated an inclusive environment that values diversity and equal opportunities, empowering individuals with disabilities to thrive. This not only enhances the experience for employees with disabilities but has also been appreciated by our tenants across India. Aligned with The Valuable 500, we lead a robust program in collaboration with CII-IBDN Network and EnAble India to drive disability inclusion. On World Disability Day, let's come together to celebrate a future that is not only diverse but genuinely equitable and inclusive,"

Highlighting the key strategies that effectively resolved the challenges at Cummins, Anupama said, "Promoting inclusivity for PWDs requires proactive policies, ongoing awareness, and a commitment to a culture of inclusion. Common challenges include:

  • Awareness and Understanding: Initial challenges include a lack of awareness about PWDs' needs and capabilities among the workforce. Cummins addresses this through awareness campaigns and sensitization sessions, fostering an informed and empathetic workforce. 
  • Accessibility: Accessibility is key to disability inclusion. Cummins conducts regular facility audits, ensuring all plants and offices have wheelchair-accessible spaces, height-adjustable workstations, and ergonomic equipment. Our digital content is compatible with assistive technologies, ensuring easy access for PWDs.
  • Mindsets and Biases: Overcoming stereotypes, stigma, prejudice, and discrimination is a persistent challenge for PWDs. At Cummins, we tackle these issues through awareness initiatives, leadership workshops, and employee sensitization, aiming to break attitudinal barriers and foster a more inclusive workplace. 
  • Career Development: Employment empowerment for PWDs is vital. Cummins addresses career disparities through role mapping in PWD inclusion initiatives at the Cummins Technical Center and Tata Cummins Plants, aligning work profiles with abilities. We train hiring managers in inclusive recruitment and talent development for equitable access to career advancement programs.

Key Policies, Initiatives, and Best Practices:

To enhance the representation of PWD employees, following initiatives and policies were launched:

  • Equal Opportunity Policy: The policy ensures a discrimination-free work environment for persons with disabilities and transgender individuals at Cummins. It applies to all employees and Cummins management.
  • WINGS ERG: To foster awareness and a safe, inclusive work environment for people with disabilities, the group at Cummins is dedicated to minimizing employment barriers in India. Through collaboration with business units, Wings ERG actively creates a comfortable workplace, enabling differently-abled individuals to reach their full potential. Over the years, it has organized impactful sessions with external speakers, initiated sensitization campaigns, and collaborated with NGOs for recruitment and training.
  • Disability Inclusion through Focused Recruitment: To boost the inclusion of PWDs in technical roles by identifying and minimizing barriers. Since its inception, numerous PWD employees have voluntarily disclosed, leading to a doubling of PWD representation in technical functions.
  • Focused Disability Inclusion Recruitment Drive: To increase the representation of PWD employees, Cummins’ Engine Business unit initiated a focused drive to recruit PWD candidates for its various functions at the Tata Cummins Plants in Phaltan.
  • Accessibility in Infrastructure and Technology: As part of our commitment to inclusivity, we incorporate accessibility features into our global building standards and expand our assistive technology solutions for a seamless experience for all employees.
  • Volunteerism and Community Investment: In the last three years, thousands of Cummins employees globally volunteered over 25,000 hours on disability inclusion projects. The Cummins Foundation invested $1.9 million in grants to support community partners focused on disability-related initiatives.
  • Strategic Corporate Partnerships: Cummins is dedicated to enhancing corporate partnerships with leading organizations in disability inclusion, including Disability: IN, The Business Disability Forum, and The Valuable 500. Through these collaborations, we seek to leverage collective expertise, share best practices, and drive meaningful change for inclusivity within our organization and the broader business community."

"In today's dynamic business landscape, SAP prioritizes a people-first approach, recognizing diverse teams and inclusive work ecosystems as essential drivers of innovation and growth. Diversity at SAP goes beyond traditional categories, encompassing varied perspectives, experiences, and skill sets. Diverse teams are more receptive, innovative, and perform better," said Shweta Mohanty, HR Head of SAP Labs India

Challenges and Key Strategies for making a more inclusive workplace at SAP:

  • "Challenges faced by individuals with disabilities include societal stereotypes, workplace accessibility, and technology inclusivity. SAP addresses these challenges through initiatives like 'Autism@Work,' sensitization sessions, accessibility audits, and infrastructure improvements. The focus is not only on employment but also on community education and training for individuals with Autism.
  • SAP believes in creating value by focusing on people's unique abilities and actively recruits differently-abled individuals. To strive for more inclusive workplaces, SAP challenges stereotypes, improves accessibility, increases job opportunities, and provides support and accommodations. The company promotes an environment where individuals are valued, empowered, and given equal opportunities.
  • SAP acknowledges the need for a shift in perspective regarding individuals with disabilities, emphasizing sensitization training for teams, managers, and employees. The company offers services for visually and hearing-impaired individuals, an Accessibility guide for inclusive communications, and subtitling and live transcript services for events. SAP is committed to including diversity and inclusion best practices in product design, with future goals for inclusive enablement materials and an accessibility framework for Mergers and Acquisitions.
  • Creating a barrier-free workplace is crucial for SAP's commitment to inclusivity. The company invests in technology and flexible remote work, empowering individuals with disabilities to contribute seamlessly. SAP's Autism at Work program, started in 2013, prioritizes recruiting individuals with neurodiversity. As SAP progresses towards a more inclusive future, the company emphasizes empathy and openness, recognizing diverse perspectives as essential for success."

Highlighting the challenges and strategies at BNY Mellon, Lucinda said, "Common Challenges seen in the industry in promoting inclusivity for employees with disabilities include awareness gaps among teams and managers, attitudinal barriers and ensuring accessible communication. To address such barriers, it is important to establish a strong business imperative along with regular DEI sensitization and awareness sessions for managers, recruiters, and employees. One of the notable efforts by HEART India, (BNY Mellon’s Diverse Abilities Employee Resource Group) is the “Listening Circles”. These Listening Circles intend to create a space that will enable employees and hiring managers to share experiences, best practices, and insights fostering a sense of community and practising active listening. Through these sessions, we have seen increased awareness, collaboration, and a more supportive environment.

The following actions from BNY Mellon have been instrumental to HEART’s success and evolution:

  • Establishing a new governance structure to drive integration of our disability inclusion strategy at multiple levels.
  • Engaging employees worldwide through storytelling, education, and collaboration reinforces the importance of disability inclusion as a business imperative.
  • Growing and maturing Industry Collaborations, Community Relationships and commitments to strengthen market leadership and visibility.
  • Implementing programs to help increase disability representation and leveraging disability employment channels to grow and strengthen the talent pipeline.

Disability Hiring as an imperative –

  • Developed a Neurodiversity Inclusion@BNYMellon program to provide a journey from apprenticeship to full-time employment, to create career paths for people with autism, dyslexia, ADHD, and other forms of cognitive diversity. This program is built on our 2021 neurodiversity pilot and 2021 Autism@Work program in the US.
  • As a learning from the pilot, in September 2022, the India team extended its efforts in hiring neurodivergent talent at the workplace. This involved consistent sensitization sessions for recruiters, hiring managers and teams on Neurodiversity to better understand how to support neurodivergent talent and create a neuro-inclusive environment."

Some of the key initiatives, policies, or best practices at BNY Mellon to making a more inclusive workplace for all: 

  • Launched in 2019, BNY Mellon India's Inclusion Ambassador Program engages over 200 ambassadors, fostering experiential learning in DEI competencies. The voluntary program empowers employees to drive an inclusive culture aligned with company values.
  • Introduced in 2019, the Mental Health Champions program, now with over 200 trained employees in EMEA, aims to provide support and guidance. In India, a pilot cohort of 18 MHCs in the HR team continues in 2023.
  • BNY Mellon strengthens disability inclusion through external partnerships, involving targeted activities, best practice sharing, and internal awareness events for various resource groups.
  • Special focus on men's mental health, health diagnosis impact, culture of silence, intersectionality, and diverse lived experiences.
  • Launched a neurodiversity toolkit in 2023 for awareness and support. 'Unwind room' supports neurodivergent colleagues and is inclusive for all on-site.
  • HEART Hubs provide internal resources for Menopause, Physical Disability, Mental Health, Neurodiversity, and Caring and dependency.
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Topics: Strategic HR, Employee Relations, #EmployeeExperience, #Wellbeing, #HRCommunity

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