The pandemic has hit persons with disabilities (PwD) especially hard. Most have lost their source of income while others are grappling with being mobile in socially distanced times. However, some corporates are championing disability inclusion in their workplace, setting the tone for a more inclusive Fourth Industrial Revolution. As we observe the United Nations International Day of Persons With Disabilities today, let’s have a look at how organisations like Sodexo, Accenture and Spark Minda are making strides in disability inclusion within their own workforce.
The food services company with a 50-year-old legacy, recruits, engages, and makes adjustments for employees with special needs in line with its mission to “improve the Quality of Life for everyone”. Sodexo has committed that by 2025: 100% of our workforce will have access to initiatives supporting the inclusion of people with disabilities. This includes a non-discrimination policy about people with disabilities, communications to support the inclusion of PwD and a disability champion.
The company has already begun working in this direction. Many of the job vacancies are open for the differently-abled and can be seen on job portals, tagged as disabled-friendly. Sodexo accommodates the PwD by providing them customized jobs, flexible working hours and shifts. Their Spirit of Inclusion programme imparts employee and leadership sensitivity training to build awareness. During the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2019, Sodexo raised awareness on divyang through the CSR campaign titled, Let’s take a closer look because there is more to us than you might think.
The campaign highlighted stories of PwD like Himanshu, employed in the housekeeping division of Sodexo India. Having learning disabilities and suffering from epileptic fits, Himanshu has overcome his fears and is today a great support to his colleagues.
To facilitate a level playing field for employees who are divyangs, Accenture formed a three-part Accessibility Council, comprising leaders who directly influence and impact accessibility and accommodation outcomes. The Council strives to make the workplace accessible by way of application software, infrastructure and sensitizing teams/ managers on disability awareness and education.
The company’s PwD Mentoring Programme enables employees to gain access to Accenture’s global network of senior colleagues to help them gain additional insights on career development. Under the PwD Career Path Framework, Accenture provides an accessible work environment for PwD employees, including an accessible recruitment process, focused integration and professional development opportunities along with role and disability-specific interventions at different stages of their career.
Introduced in fiscal 2014, their PwD Champions Network aims to bring together employees who are PwD and provides them support through networking, collaboration and mentoring. With more than 1,400 members, the Network endeavours to impart knowledge, skills and insights around the PwD programme.
Spark Minda’s CSR initiative Saksham not only provides the PwDs with assistive aid and devices but also caters to their need of livelihood. This is done by acting as a conduit for placements of the PwDs. Often, the interested PwDs are absorbed by the groups itself at their various locations.
For implementing this, collaborations with NGOs working for the employment of PwDs are established. Organizations such as Sarthak Educational Trust, National Association for Blind and Youth for Job have helped the PwDs get placed according to their interest and accessibility.
The PwDs absorbed by the plants undergo On Job Training in order to accomplish the designated task. In order to allocate jobs that do not hamper the efficient working of the PwDs, Spark Minda has developed a deployment matrix wherein operations that are suitable and unsuitable are listed for persons with visual, speech and hearing and mobility impairment. This aids in employing the right person for the right role, thereby ensuring sustainability of the placement.
A mapping exercise is conducted to identify the best PwD for the job. The induction process is based on the specific disability. For instance, a proper induction manual has been developed in braille, and in audio, for persons with visual impairment. Thereafter, the company incorporates infrastructural changes in the workplace for that employee. An ecosystem conducive to PwDs is being created through human behaviour.
A global provider of technology-enabled business process outsourcing solutions, Startek takes pride in providing equal employment opportunities and recognizing the contribution of PwD by providing them with employment opportunities. The organization has partnered with multiple institutions including Employment Exchanges, Vocational Rehabilitation Centres (VRC), Welfare Foundations, and Women Empowerment Institutes in India.
The company complements its Diversity and Inclusion initiative through Training and Sensitization programmes. Startek was specifically recognized for the creation and use of a multidimensional model of diversity and outcome-based measurement system to ensure individual and organizational metrics supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace.