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Communicating differently

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DQW Bureau
New Update





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Most recruitment advertisements for IT and BPO companies mention: “We are an

equal opportunity employer” in a very small font size, toward the end of the

advertisement, but it would be difficult to recall any advertisement that

specifically calls for applications from differently abled people. Even if one

visits the career sections of the websites of leading IT and BPO companies in

India, it would be difficult to locate whether there is something for

differently abled people or whether there is a specific mention about

encouraging these people to apply for jobs. The reasons are not easy to

comprehend but this is a reality which cannot go unnoticed. However, there are

some examples of good work done by a few companies in this regard.

Infosys is a company which has been noticed for its work in this direction.

Infosys BPO, sometime back, was awarded the 'Best Employer in Disability' by the

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, for its policy

of attracting and encouraging differently abled employees. Infosys BPO is one of

the largest employers of disabled individuals in the BPO industry. The company

has plans to increase its headcount of differently abled employees to 5 percent

of the total workforce by April 2009. But the Project Communicate initiative of

MphasiS (an EDS company) stands out and gives an indication of how things will

shape in the future.

The Hope Behind



Getting the latest data about differently abled people is not an easy task.

The Government of India's census data dates to 2001 and puts the total number of

disabled people at 2.1 crore. But data on educational qualification-data which

can throw good light on the talent pool availability among these people-are

difficult to come by. Visiting the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry's

website (http://socialjustice.nic.in) gives the pathetic state of affairs. Most

of the data and information are outdated, the most recent initiatives dating

back to 2002. That is a good indicator of the keenness of government agencies

entrusted with the task of taking good care of this section of population.

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MphasiS' strength of differently abled people working at different levels has

grown from 40 to 140 over a period of three years. This has been possible due to

Project Communicate. Designed by MphasiS and Diversity & Equal Opportunity

Center (DEOC), along with the Association of People with Disability (APD), the

curriculum provides participants with both technical and soft skills required

for a successful career in ITeS.

According to Meenu Bhambhani, Manager-CSR, MphasiS, “This is a unique

initiative as it is aimed at making people from rural areas with SSLC and PUC

education employable. The plan now is to expand it to other cities where MphasiS

has its operations.” Bhambhani who overcame her own disability through hard work

and dedication, says, “For me, disability is not just personal but also

political. I always felt that being a person with disability does not

necessarily equip me to work for various issues plaguing person with

disabilities in India. I also believe that unless there are changes at the

policy level, things will not change.”

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Highlighting the idea behind the project, Rama Chari, Director, DEOC, says,

“We felt the need to focus on increasing employability through an intensive and

structured pre-employment training, which would enable them to compete on an

equal footing with other candidates”

Way Forward



India needs more such initiatives across the country, to exploit the

untapped talent that exists in the country. IT and BPO companies need to come

forward in a more focused manner, and not make it merely a small part of their

CSR initiative but more mainstream. Through Project Communicate, MphasiS has the

first right to recruit, which is fair considering the investment it has made in

training and spotting of talent. DEOC is open to the idea of more companies

joining the program so that the base could be expanded. But more importantly,

companies have to do more to attract talent. There is a low level of awareness

among differently abled people about their eligibility for certain jobs. They

feel they are not welcome. This has to be overcome through campaigns and

advertisements targeted specifically at the disadvantaged section of the

population.

Sudesh Prasad


sudeshp@cybermedia.co.in

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