Towards an inclusive workplace

Updated - November 17, 2021 02:06 am IST

Published - February 26, 2016 12:00 am IST - Bengaluru:

Startups and businesses across the city are trying to make their workplaces more inclusive, with differently-abled people slowly being seen more as assets rather than liabilities. Some such companies spoke about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of ‘Being an inclusive employer,’ a seminar organised by the American India Foundation (AIF) Trust here on Thursday along with the Whitfield Area Commerce and Industries Association.

“As persons with disabilities have been through a lot of challenges, they are more resilient, a quality companies look for,” said Madhumitha Venkataraman, an associate director at an e-commerce company.

Emphasising the need to sensitise the peer group, Ms. Venkataraman, who leads Advitya, the diversity and inclusion charter at Snapdeal, said, “A person with disability is also a person. They should be evaluated on merit. If a differently-abled person is not performing well, don’t hesitate to give feedback. It is not enough for companies to build a ramp and call themselves disabled friendly. Each person with disabilities has different needs and the companies should listen to them, by introducing a policy like the reasonable accommodation policy.”

Speaking about the need to have more companies adopt an inclusive hiring policy, Baldev Gulati from AIF, himself a visually-challenged person, said even if each employer takes in two people, it would result in a large number of persons with disabilities being hired.

Dreamed of getting into IIM

“I started in a special school and moved to a regular school in class four. During my B Com, I decided that I wanted to get into an Indian Institute of Management (IIM). My parents thought my only option was getting into a government job. But I wanted more,” recalled Sumanth K.V, who works with the operations team at Flipkart. He has cerebral palsy.

“I wrote the Common Admission Test (CAT) for the first time while in college, and like everyone else, failed spectacularly. I then wanted to try for examinations for private business schools. Many of the B-schools said they had never given exam takers scribes. Then I put my dream aside and started looking for a job," he said.

He gave several interviews until he got a job at an agency where he handled stock exchanges.

“In my work, even the third decimal point mattered. If it went wrong, the trader would lose millions,” he said. “In my fourth attempt in 2011, I got into IIM Indore. After graduating, I took over 50 interviews until I got a job over the course of two years," he told The Hindu . "Every employer had an issue with my speech abilities. But today, a major part of my job involves following up, making calls. I handle a few crores every month for Flipkart and have a lot of fun working.”

‘A person with disability is also a person and should be evaluated on merit’

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