How to make the workplace suitable for people with disabilities
It is extremely important that people with disabilities participate in the progress and development of the economy. The best way to tap their capabilities is by employing them in private and public employment sectors. But are our sectors really inclusive when it comes to employing disabled people? Undoubtedly, we have a long way to go. With careful planning and implementing right strategies, people with disabilities can be an active part of the progress of our economy.
Most times, employers have many doubts about how to make their offices and work spaces inclusive. Some companies do not even have exclusive policies for hiring disabled people. In spite of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPWD) clearly stating how disabled people must be given equal jobs, most of the companies do not even follow them.
Preetham Sunkavalli, who is blind, works as an Area Sales Manager in Mahindra. An Indian Institute of Management graduate, Sunkavalli has been doing extremely well at work.
I believe all companies, private and public, must have diversity programmes. The most important thing is they must identify roles that a person can do depending on their disability and then hire them. Recruitment processes must be inclusive. For example, if one of the steps of a recruitment process is group discussion, a deaf person can clearly not take part in it. Make hiring processes as inclusive as possible. The person to whom the employee is going to report must know about their limitations because most work places are not equipped to hire disabled people-Preetham Sunkavalli
Here are some tips for employers to attract job seekers with disabilities
- Flexibility - Providing flexible timings to people with disabilities are an ideal way to attract them to work. Giving those options to work from home are ideal. Employers can also try and give them opportunities to avail transport and give consent to have their medical appointments on time when they need it.
- Accessible work spaces - All employers must provide accessible and disabled-friendly work spaces like wheelchair ramps and Braille signatories in the office. Ensure that the doors have wide spaces so that people on crutches can move around easily. Accessible work spaces make a lot of difference for a disabled employee.
- Job fairs - Job fairs give employers an opportunity to directly interact with aspiring job seekers and get a clear idea of whether they must be hired or not. Such job fairs are an ideal platform to look out for disabled job seekers as well. They do not have to undergo the hassles of signing up for appointments and visiting office every time for an interview process. So when a company plans to hold a job fair, it is best if they clearly mention that the job openings are also for disabled people.
- Promoting through social media - People with all kinds of disabilities are active on social media. So advertising or putting a company's requirements on social media will help it to reach disabled people easily. They can look out for details online, sitting inside their rooms. If they find it to match their resume, then they can easily take it to a step forward. Social media has always been great in helping people to connect.
"According to me, accessibility of the work place matters a lot", says Anuradha Krishnamoorthy, Founder, Krea eKnowledge Pvt Ltd. and Can DO, which is a CSR initiative that provides training and employment for people with disabilities.
"I know a lot of disabled people who travel for hours to get to their work place. So, make sure that accessibility is given a lot of importance at the work place. If the employer can provide them with accommodation, then nothing like it. They can avoid the hassle of travelling every day."
Various studies show that people with disabilities are as productive as anyone else. All they need is the right support and a cooperative attitude.