Driving diversity inclusion at the workplace: Why leaders should embrace people with disabilities and respect their talents

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act was enacted to ensure equal rights to people with disabilities. The law was designed to facilitate a 4% reservation to people with disabilities in government and public sector jobs.

For any nation to be inclusive, it is crucial to see everyone in the society, as equal. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act was enacted to ensure equal rights to people with disabilities. The law was designed to facilitate a 4% reservation to people with disabilities in government and public sector jobs. Census 2011 highlights that 2.68 crore people of India’s 121-crore population struggle with some form of disability. Turns out that it is the major reason behind their joblessness. The RPWD Act has been barely implemented, as highlighted by different surveys. 

It’s time for the private sector to step up. And thankfully several of them are taking a lead in disability inclusion. Accenture India, Mahindra Group, IBM, Future Retail, Tata Steel, Brookfield Properties, MakeMyTrip, L’Oreal India, Capgemini India have already implemented several steps from accessible spaces to hiring and training, as their disability inclusion philosophy. 

Candor TechSpace, managed by Brookfield Properties is part of the same league and looks at disability as ‘extra ability’.  With a strong intent to transform all its tech parks into universally-accessible campuses, the organization has introduced disable-friendly infrastructure – facilitating workforce with wheelchair parking areas, specially-built restrooms, efficient-access ramps, Braille writing features in F&B menus and vending machines, etc.

Twenty Indian corporates have recently joined ‘The Valuable 500’, a global campaign that strives to ensure businesses recognise the importance of people living with disabilities. It is a laudable initiative to foster inclusivity across the work ecosystem. In fact, every organisation should learn and be a part of it to achieve success in their respective businesses.

Here’s looking to some of the ways to drive disability as a boardroom and management agenda

Focusing on the starting point i.e. the hiring process, leaders should educate the HR teams on the importance of inclusivity and elaborate them on how it can create a positive impact on the overall functioning of the organisation. Unbiased HR managers can easily analyse and pick the right talent without differentiating candidates on the basis of physical disabilities. 

Secondly, organizations should bring diverse leaders in senior roles, as it will naturally maintain inclusivity not only from the angle of gender parity but also from the point of view of those who are differently-abled. Doing so will create an environment of equality, motivate employees and give them an opportunity to share and learn from each other. This will eventually reflect on the improved productivity and profitability levels.

Most essentially, they should conduct workshops to educate the workforce and increase awareness around disability inclusion. Through these workshops, an employer can address various challenges regarding perceptions and misperceptions about individuals with disabilities. This will create a more comfortable work environment for both able-bodied and differently-abled employees to work and grow under a single aegis. 

The benefits of a diversity inclusive workplace 

According to a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 2018, diversity inclusive organizations performed better than other organizations in terms of innovation and financial results – leading to a 19% spike in their revenue figures. Not only did it create a positive impact on the company’s bottom line but it also resulted in higher creativity levels at the workplace. 

A whitepaper published by Accenture in 2018 also said that companies that hired candidates with disabilities reported 28 percent higher revenue and two times higher net income. Surely, people with disabilities bring something different on the table for companies they work for. 

Companies that had disable-friendly policies reported a significant drop in attrition rates and were able to retain good talent while improving upon other key factors such as employee engagement, decision making, customer orientation, among others, as mentioned in a McKinsey & Company report, titled “Why Diversity Matters”. 

Evidently, any organization that is inclusive, can innovate and drive better results than its peers. After all, people with disabilities are also humans, who seek empathy, not sympathy. And to value these talents, we need to start from ourselves, by adopting the right behaviours and staying committed to inclusivity - not only at the workplace but in all spheres of life.

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