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At Indore workshop on workplace inclusion, corporates share learnings & inspiring stories

India has a population of 2.68 crore disabled people, of which almost 1.3 crore are employable. To meet the stated goal of training 25 lakh by 2022 is no small task - it requires a concerted effort towards sensitisation.

What are some of the barriers people with disabilities and how can provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 be used to improve workplace inclusion? These were some of the key areas of focus at a workshop on #DisabilityConfidence at Workplace held in Indore this week.

Hosted by the Department for International Development (DFID) - Government of United Kingdom, Skill Council for Persons with Disabilities (SCPwD), Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (GOI) this is among a series being held to sensitise corporates on inclusion of people with disabilities into the workplace.

Eight such workshops have been hosted since September 2018 across Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh and Jamshedpur.

This is critical given that India has a population of 1.34 crore disabled people in the employable age of 15 to 59 years. As per the National Action Plan, India intends to train 25 lakh youth by 2022. Building sensitisation and mapping of disability specific job roles, therefore, is an urgent need.

The workshops are aimed at improving industry best practices on disability inclusion and addressing barriers. The approach followed is to share experiences and discuss practical solutions.

There were over 20 organisations and 35 participants from varied sectors like IT business processing, financial services, hospitality and retail, to name a few. Among the organisations present was Apna Sweets, Lemon Tree, Big Bazaar, Landmark Group and Flexituff Venture's International ltd which have over one hundred people with disabilities working across job roles.

The companies shared their journeys and learnings and the approach followed to build a culture of inclusion at the workplace.

Our approach is opportunity-based and not-charity based. Our mission is to enable people with disabilities to participate meaningfully in the economy and to encourage others to learn and follow. - Rajesh Sharma, Human Resources, Apna Sweets

Also present were disabled employees in these companies who shared their stories of growth. Some of their words were quite inspiring. "The human spirit is one of ability, perseverance and courage that no disability can steal away, said Kanhaiya an employee of Flexituff.

Through regular interactions like these workplace inclusion experts hope to address doubts and misconceptions and motivate small and medium business enterprises to embrace inclusion at the workplace.

"Businesses should not be biased by the myths associated with disabilities, said Pritish from Big Bazaar. Big Bazaar is showing the way forward in workplace inclusion with some original and innovative approaches like Autism Hour in stores, Braille packaging, to name a few. They should instead just go forward and extend opportunities. When they do it, they will realize that it is something they should have done years ago.

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