Till a few years ago, hiring disabled people used to be a part of corporate social responsibility (CSR), but now, companies view disabled people as potential workforce.
Bangalore-based IT solutions company Mphasis Limited increased the number of disabled employees eight-fold in less than a year.
“They are hired only on the basis of their skills, notwithstanding the disability they are suffering from. A visually impaired person can easily work in the voice-based process of our BPO division and a hearing impaired employee is accommodated in the technical or back office project,” says Dr Meenu Bhambhani, global head, CSR, Mphasis Ltd.
Ankit Jindal, a first-year student of Faculty of Management Studies, runs an organisation called Diversity and Equal Opportunity Centre (DEOC) to help disabled people take up jobs in the corporate world. The organisation ran a project called Communicate wherein youngsters from the villages of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were selected for placement in Bangalore’s BPOs.
“In the first batch, we selected and trained 50 people, of whom 47 were hired by different companies. So far, we have placed 90 people under that project. A few got rejected, as we ensure that company’s don’t lower the standard to accommodate a disabled person. We don’t believe in charity models,” says Jindal, who suffers from visual impairment.
DEOC is a profit making organisation and not an NGO. For its clients, it does research on recruitment, provides training and carries out building audit of corporates to give them suggestions on recruitment of disabled people.
“When we started three years ago, we aimed to start an organisation which could help disabled people get jobs. Later we started making profits and companies like Infosys, Wipro and IBM were keen to get their office buildings audited. Post auditing, the infrastructure is modified to make it disabled friendly,” said Jindal.
Companies are increasingly getting these audits done by expert agencies, which recommend necessary changes to create an inclusive office environment. National Centre for Accessible Environments (Samarthyam) is one such body. Anjali Aggwarwal, executive director of Samarthyam, says: “We have received positive response from many companies, especially the BPO sector where disabled people are considered a valuable resource.”
Wipro encourages employees to declare the disability at the time of recruitment so that right from the time of induction, adequate infrastructure modifications can be made. “Diversity in all forms (disability, gender or national) makes the company’s management diverse and every time a decision is taken, inputs are received by the varied minds,” says Issac George V, general manager, talent engagement and development, Wipro Technologies.