Talent solutions firm Allegis India started its journey of inclusion of people with disabilities in its workforce in 2014. After five years, the firm has 41 people with disabilities in skilled roles.
"As a talent solutions provider our purpose is to create opportunities for everyone while maintaining the principle of 'service mentality," says Pravin Tatavarti, Managing Director at Allegis India. He says, it also came from the realisation that "if we are able to pull off inclusion of people with disabilities, our company will have more empathy, people would learn to see different perspectives, and we will be able to serve customers better".
To share its best practices with other firms and enable people with disabilities access knowledge of different employment opportunities available, they opened a Garv Se centre in their Bengaluru office in July 2018. "It was a natural extension for us to share the practices with others of what we had learnt over the years in hiring people with disabilities," says Devika Nair, Diversity and Inclusion & CSR Lead (India) at Allegis India.
She adds that one of the key reasons to do that was because the awareness around the employment opportunities in the sector was quite low. "Companies often had unfounded biases and concerns regarding hiring of people with disabilities. So, it was important to set up a catchment space where people, not-profits, companies, or anyone who needs information could walk in and learn."
Allegis has deployed its own hiring team of four recruiters to run the Centre in partnership with the not-for-profit Enable India where they provide information on job fit analysis, onboarding and retention support and training requirements, among others.
The two enterprises together have mapped 370 skilled job roles that people with disabilities can do in corporates. For instance, people with vision impairment or limited physical mobility can take up the role of a recruiter, or people with autism work well in finance and accounting department.
Over the last 18 months, almost 25 companies have leveraged the centre to either recruit talent or replicate the best practices around inclusion of people with disabilities in their own firms. Allegis managed to get 350 people with disabilities got placed in skilled roles. Out of these, 70 job placements are from its Garv Se centre.
The Centre also has a range of workplace solutions to enable a supportive environment that helps bridge the gap between a person's disability and the job requirements. For instance, a vibrating cane for the visually impaired, a joystick to help physically challenged people control their computers effectively and screen reading software, among others.
Along the journey for inclusion, the firm has ramped up skill sets for its own team. Its learning and development team is now capable of training people with visually impairment for the job role of a recruiter. Since the learning module had to be divided into smaller components for people with disabilities, they are also helping the slow learners in the firm catch up.
According to a report by the World Bank, persons with disability constitute between 4-8 per cent of India's population and yet corporate sector has been slow in waking up to leveraging their talent pool. More such efforts are needed to bring people with disabilities in the mainstream.