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Times of India
03 December 2010
By Joeanna Rebello Fernandes
Mumbai, India

Wadhwani Foundation To Find Jobs For 2,000
HANDBOOK: NASSCOM Foundation has published Inclusivity at the Workplace: Five Principles to Enable and Empower the Differently Abled HANDBOOK: NASSCOM Foundation has published Inclusivity at the Workplace: Five Principles to Enable and Empower the Differently Abled
Change is coming to the country’s corporate campuses, and it’s coming on the back of a diversity policy that is finally beginning to flex its muscles. Many non–profit organizations and social extensions of industry are talking to companies, enjoining them to house a permanent framework that comprehensively covers matters related to the employment of persons with disabilities.

Companies are being reminded of the benefits of inclusivity and of keeping a diverse staff. NASSCOM Foundation (NF)–the social outreach arm of NASSCOM initiated its Accessibility Initiative earlier this year, and last month published a handbook for the IT–BPO sector.

The handbook, Inclusivity at the Workplace: Five Principles to Enable and Empower the Differently Abled, is a compendium of the broad principles and guidelines that advise companies on why they should pursue greater inclusivity, how they can go about it, and how to sustain such a policy. They have also listed case studies of companies such as Wipro Technologies, MindTree Ltd and MphasiS that serve as role models.

"Our approach is to mainstream the employment of persons with disability," says Rita Soni, CEO of NF. Besides making the handbook available to member companies in the IT sector, NF is organising a slew of activities to pursue its agenda. A career guidance session in Chennai and job fair in Delhi have been planned. In fact, 200 persons with disability have already registered for the job fair at the Vocational Rehabilitation Centre on December 10.

Another advocate for greater employment is the Wadhwani Foundation–an offshoot of the Wadhwani Group. Its Opportunity Network for Disabled has partnered with the American India Foundation to train people for specific industries. "We’re looking at particular needs of industries, and writing training programmes to meet these needs.

Our aim is to make corporates seek out the educated disabled," says Dr Ajay Kela, president and CEO of the Wadhwani Foundation. "People with disabilities have a greater tenacity to fight the odds and this quality will benefit an employer," he says, adding that by March 2011, WF hopes to find sustainable, skilled jobs for 2,000 persons with disability across sectors like retail, hospitality and business processing.

It stands to reason that if there are jobs to be had, there will be lesser attrition at schools and colleges. Persons with disabilities will attempt to brave higher education, if they know it will lead to a successful and dignified career. Agencies in the field of advocacy are changing the timbre of their appeal, suggesting that inclusivity makes good business sense.

Organizations like Diversity and Equal Opportunity Centre (DEOC) urge companies to recruit from colleges and not from non–governmental organizations. "It’s how we’re trying to change mindsets," says Rama Chari, director of DEOC. "With India being a signatory to the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the prescripts of the convention are as good as law in a court, and a person can claim damages against discrimination," says Chari.

About 0.75 to 1 per cent of the workforce of MPhasis employs persons with disability, and its CSR head, Meenu Bhambani, has polio.

"We have been hiring persons with disability for five years," she says.

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