For months now, nations have been battling the impact of the virus and trying to reduce their negative effect on socio-economic institutions. While the pandemic has brought a gloomy atmosphere on the Indian economy, this period presents an opportunity for organizations to reflect on the role of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in corporate India.
An analysis of disclosures by listed companies carried out by Business Standard in 2019 revealed that persons with disabilities made up just 0.46 percent of the total employee base. In 2018, employees with disabilities made up 0.47 percent of the employee base. In essence, the 0.46 percent recorded in 2019 indicated a reduction in the number of persons with disabilities employed in the corporate sector.
The reason for this low level of representation is not far-fetched: Companies have been reluctant to provide support and access to the right tools and opportunities for persons with disabilities. There is a general perception within the corporate sector that hiring people with disabilities requires costly infrastructure modifications. Besides, many in the corporate world believe that corporate disability inclusion will lead to reduced productivity.
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To increase corporate disability inclusion, a law holding up the rights of persons with disabilities came into effect in 2016. The act demanded organizations met specific responsibilities meant for the benefits of disability inclusion in the workplace. Under the law, the discrimination of persons with disabilities in the workplace became illegal. However, this has made little difference in terms of disability employment and inclusion because awareness and compliance with the law remain low within the corporate sector.
As stated earlier, companies are hostile towards employing people with disabilities because of an anticipated significant administrative expense. Many also believe employees with disabilities are not as productive. However, a 2015 report titled “The Road to Inclusion – Integrating PWDs in Organizations” published by the Boston Consulting Group and Youth4Jobs attempted to scotch that claim. The report showed how particular companies that hired persons with disabilities experienced an upward improvement in productivity. They also recorded lower attrition rates and reduced absenteeism, which in turn led to better bottom lines, higher levels of customer satisfaction, and the creation of a positive corporate brand image. And that’s not all: the report also noted that in most cases, companies needed only to make minor and cost-effective infrastructure changes for accommodating persons with disabilities in the workplace.
Why is disability inclusion important? To answer this question, companies need to understand that persons with disabilities can also contribute to the development of products and services. And as the report from the Boston Consulting Group has stated, a company’s disability-inclusion practices required minor, inexpensive infrastructural modifications. Besides, the COVID-19 crisis has taught us a valuable lesson: flexible and inclusive work policies benefit employees across the board, and it increases an organization’s resilience as well.
- Persons with disabilities form less than 0.5% of staff in India’s top fi by Sachin P. Mampatta & Amritha Pillay||November 14, 2019
- Why this is an opportune time to reflect on corporate disability inclusion by Parinaz Madan||August 4, 2020
- The Road To Inclusion – Integrating Persons With Disabilities In Organizations by Arindam Bhattacharya, Samir Agrawal, and Merra Shenoy||November 2015
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