Hiring disabled people makes good business sense say India's top companies at the 2018 Retail Inclusion Summit

How can India’s disabled population be made a part of the India’s growth story? That was the main focus of the second Retail Inclusion Summit (RIS) in Mumbai.

Top companies, NGOs and experts came together to share their stories and models of workplace inclusion. The focus being the retail industry.

The RIS aims to sensitize employers about the need to create an inclusive workplace.

The first Retail Inclusion Summit in 2017 focused on policy. This time, its on accesssibility. There are over 100 unique employers that hire disabled people. About 15 top companies in India have made it a policy. This year when we announced it, many companies asked if they could bring their store learinings. – Nancy Desai, Director, Finance & Livelihood Programs,Trust for Retailers & Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN)

People with disabilities are largely marginalized and denied jobs in India. Pankh, an initiative started by TRRAIN and Youth4Jobs (Y4J) Foundation, is working to change that. Since 2011, it has been training disabled people to help them find job opportunities.

Pankh does this by partnering with NGOs. It has 29 centers across India. The model followed is Source-Train-Place, to help drive employment generation and inclusion.

Economic & Non-Economic Impact

Pankh released an impact assessment report, at the event. The key findings give a sense of the quantum difference PANKH has made to the lives of disabled people and their families.

  • 79% increase in employment generation of candidates
  • 287% increase in average salaries
  • 73% jump in income bracket
  • 66% of candidates shifted from being non-salaried to salaried members of society

On the non-economic front, candidates reported a substantial rise in feelings of self confidence, and a desire to take on more responsibility.

Our mission is not about creating numbers. It is not about creating 10,000 livelihoods, but about impacting 10,000 lives. The aim is to provide livelihoods to people with disabilities, not skills. – B S Nagesh, Founder, TRRAIN

Present in the audience were several top companies, like Reliance Retail, McDonalds, Future Retail and Trent Hypermarkets, which talked about their models of inclusion at the workplace.

Big Bazaar has opened 35 accessible stores across India for people with disabilities, while Trent Hypermarkets is working towards making 25% of its workforce staffed with disabled people.

We are not doing anyone a favour. We look forward to hiring people people with physical challenges as well as mental differences. The biggest problem is not demand, but strategic supply. – Jamshed Daboo, CEO, Trent Hypermarkets

At one of our theme stores, we have hired people with autism. There were a lot of questions at first about how they will handle the pressure. The store manager worked closely with them to figure out what roles would suit them. – Ankur Shukla, HR Operations, Reliance Retail

Many advantages

What came through was the conviction that there was no difference in the performance quality between disabled and non-disabled employees. All companies affirmed that having disabled employees on the workforce has a positive impact on customer perception. It also helps boost customer loyalty and retention.

Employing disabled people also makes business sense, as the PANKH report highlights. People with disabilities have a far lower attrition rate compared to non-disabled employees.

Apart from this, the government of India gives many benefits. The employer’s contribution towards Employee Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) are funded by the government for the first three years of PwD employment.

The message is clear. Hiring disabled people is not just the right thing to do. Its also good for business.

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