Disability is just a matter of perception and it doesn’t mean inability. But despite all the talks of inclusivity PwDs are still struggling to be accepted by the mainstream companies. The big question, therefore, remains ‘Are there any concrete steps that we are taking?’
People with disability as they enter adulthood, carry an emotional baggage and are made to feel worse by the discriminatory attitude of the employers. Many hearing and speech impaired people are now employed in retail and FMCG chains, massage parlors, reflexology centres etc. However, there’s still a huge gap in awareness for hiring people with development disability. Employers are skeptical of hiring them but many feel if we have policies similar to japan of penalizing employers not hiring PwDs, things will improve significantly.
Reasons behind employers’ reluctance could be many, from monetary restraints (as disabled staff would need special software that could be costly) to lack of internal infrastructure support for them. But we strongly feel that increased awareness and support from NGOs, philanthropic organizations and Non-profits could make a lot of difference, therefore, Wadhwani Foundation’s Opportunity Network for Disabled is trying to do that and more. Dr. Ajay Kela, President and CEO, Wadhwani Foundation, says ‘India has about three to four million educated disabled but their representation in corporate India is meagre. An educated disabled offers business value having demonstrated tenacity in acquiring their degree despite weak supporting infrastructure. Our mission is to mainstream the educated disabled into sustainable high quality corporate jobs’.
Time and again it has been proved that PwDs bring with them a lot of advantages for the companies like lower attrition rates and more dedication towards work. They are highly efficient, immensely loyal and come with a belief to grow with the company.
Sudha Menon, the best-selling author of Gifted says ‘Before I started writing Gifted, my book on the extraordinary lives of 15 differently-abled people, I had no idea how talented and truly gifted they are. Having met so many of them over the 2 years that it took me to write the book I am convinced they can bring that extra something to the table that we “normally-abled” people can’t or don’t- an unwavering commitment and focus to their work and a determination to get to their goal, no matter what.
Opportunity network for disabled realizes this fact and is consistently working towards it by providing skills training to educated PwD youth and then placing them against regular job openings in mainstream organizations.