From bottling to IT, India Inc finds right fit in disabled

From bottling to IT, India Inc finds right fit in disabled

NEW DELHI: A couple of months back when Prasad Corporation hired 50 people with disabilities, it unknowingly discovered a perfect fit for its digital film restoration division. Unlike its normal staff, the new hires with hearing and speech impairment could cope better with high noise levels in the division. The company is now looking at hiring 100 more differently abled people this fiscal.


"Initially, they were a little slow, but they picked up after a couple of months. Now, they are better than the average employee in the division," said Sree Suresh, manager (talent acquisition) at Prasad EFX. "Other employees tend to take hourly breaks, but people with disabilities put in longer hours." Around 100 employees at Cafe Coffee Day who brew coffee are hearing and speech impaired.

Coca-Cola India too has employed many such people at its factory as bottling inspectors. Companies like Microsoft, IBM, Lemon Tree hotels, the Park, etc are all actively looking to hire differently abled people in various roles. Many companies are finding "right fit" employees among people with disabilities and are discovering that differently abled people are better than others in several job profiles.

Coca-Cola is one example. "In the factory bottling line, where the bottles are constantly clanking, hearing impaired persons are more suitable than other workers. We are continuously looking at engaging more people with disabilities," a company official said. In fact, Coca-Cola along with American India Foundation (AIF) is engaging other companies to find employment and train 1,000 people with disabilities by this fiscal end.

As part of its campaign, Coca-Cola through AIF is placing 600 differently abled in companies like Titan, Lemon Tree, Vodafone and National Association for the Blind by the fiscal-end. These companies have committed to absorbing around 600 people by this fiscal-end, a Coca-Cola official said. Salman Khan's Being Human and Rage Frameworks have committed funds for the cause of Coca-Cola.

Realizing the potential in the hearing and speech impaired, Cafe Coffee Day (CCD), is looking at adding more of such employees to the cafes across the country. "People with hearing and speech disability are the best brewers across all our stores," said K Ramakrishnan, president-marketing of Cafe Coffee Day. "They have a heightened sense of smell, this is very important for brewing coffee." Lemon Tree has engaged close to 260 people with disabilities and is looking at adding another 100 by the end of this fiscal.

Every month, the hotel chain conducts a sign language certification program for all its employees. "To enable smooth communication between employees with disabilities and the rest of our staff we religiously hold the certification program where participation is compulsory," said Santosh Kumar Nayak, GM from Red Fox Hotels (Lemon Tree). The Park, Hyderabad has hired around 10 persons with disability as a pilot project. The hotel sensitizes all its guests on the floor before these employees take up the house cleaning task under a supervisor.

"After their recruitment, they are given basic training in sign language and induction regarding the daily chores that they have to perform at work. Even fellow employees and new employees are given prior intimation about these people," said Namrata Sharma director (HR), the Park Hotel. IT companies like SAP India, Microsoft, and IBM India to realize the potential talent among persons with disabilities.


"At Microsoft, we believe that diversity enriches our performance and products, the communities where we live and work, and the lives of our employees," a company spokesperson said. In India, IBM has undertaken several initiatives to increase visibility and access to this set of employees at the workplace. "IBM has initiated round table meetings with employees to understand and address their unique concerns.

IBM has established a voluntary network of persons with disabilities - EnABLErs at IBM," DP Singh, vice president - HR, IBM India/South Asia said. IBM also partners with NGOs and other industry bodies in selecting qualified candidates and assist them in their ongoing career journey.

SAP Labs India currently employs five individuals with autism and plans to hire five more by the end of 2014. "SAP emphasizes on leveraging the unique talents of the disabled people and providing them meaningful employment," an SAP India official said.





Source: The Economic Times

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