Employing disabled makes good business sense - My Take by C K Kumarvel, founder of India's 1st inclusive beauty salon

In My Take this week, C K Kumarvel, owner of the Naturals chain of beauty salons, talks to Newz Hook about his new initiative Naturals Enable, India's first inclusive beauty salon that employs the disabled.

The choice of name, Naturals Enable, for our inclusive beauty salon, was a very conscious one. We believe that employing people with disabilities is a sound business decision, and not an act of charity or favour. It is a financially viable decision and by employing them we get good business value. That's why its called Enable.

We tried hiring disabled people earlier but somehow it did not gain traction. So this time we took the help of Youth4Jobs to identify the right people. They helped us by training them in soft skills and also sensitized our staff members. They even taught sign language to the team, including myself. It was a rare time when our team came together like this and it was a happy class. This played an important role in ensuring that we were on the right track because otherwise we would have missed out on small things.

We have 12 people, with a mix of disabilities like low vision, blind, speech and hearing impaired and mobility issues. Another 12 are undergoing training. They will be placed at all our salons. Those who have mobility issues will be placed at the salons at malls since there is infrastructure like lifts and ramps already in place. We have built a ramp at one of our salons but it won't be possible to build one everywhere as there are some limitatons at some areas.

I am happy to see that my staff has become sensitized and enjoy interacting and engaging with them. I think this is a small step towards building an inclusive society.

There have been so many learnings for us from this experience. We have people with different kinds of disabilities and we have realized how each one has specific needs. Earlier we looked at them as one unit.

We also learned that they don’t want special treatment because they are disabled. We were planning to frame separate rules so they would have Sundays off while actually the salons are open on Sundays. But they told us not to do that as they want to be treated like everyone else.

My goal is to employ 1,000 people with disabilities at all my salons by 2018. Our franchisees are also coming forward and asking for more disabled employees which is a welcome change.