Government seeks support from India Inc to empower PwDs
Accessibility Index, an aspirational educational benchmark- almost finalized
Top Leadership Commitment, Accessible Environment, Facilitative Processes- Key Ingredients for Mainstreaming PwDs
While the government has recently launched several initiatives like Accessible India Campaign, the public and private sector should come together to ensure inclusion and mainstreaming of differently abled, said Mr Thaawarchand Gehlot, Hon’ble Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment. Speaking at the Special Session of the National Conference on Special Abilities- Breaking down the Barriers: Role of Industry, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Delhi today, the Minister congratulated CII’s work in the area of disability and urged industry to come forward and map and upgrade skills of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). He asked the industry to support government initiatives and especially look at providing assistive devices and medical assistance for PwDs.
Lov Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Government of India, suggested that industry creates an action plan with timelines and targets, towards inclusion. Mukesh Jain, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Government of India, shared the three pillars of the Government’s Accessible India Campaign- Accessibility of Built environment, transport and technology. Responding to the apprehensions, Mr Jain clarified that the Accessibility index, which is almost finalized, is an aspirational and educational benchmark and not a mechanism to penalize companies. The index will celebrate and recognize companies who have championed the cause of inclusion.
The National Conference was held with the objective of creating a momentum within the corporate sector towards building inclusive workplaces. The discussions were focussed on effectively addressing barriers, sharing experiences, good practices and the business case for including PwDs in organizations.
Speaking at the conference, Mr Patu Keswani, Chairman, CII National Committee on Special Abilities and Chairman & Managing Director, Lemon Tree Hotels stressed that hiring PwDs is not a matter of charity. The advantages, he said, range from increased productivity, reduced attrition rate, reduced absenteeism and a brand image of being an inclusive enterprise with positive spin-off for all stakeholders. Creating inclusive workplace should be a top-down approach with dedicated resources to ensure inclusion. It is important that the top leadership of the company believes in mainstreaming PwDs and roll out sensitization programs to break myths, he added.
The Conference saw the release of DIY booklet on Inclusion- Breaking down the Barriers, developed by CII, which is a practical guide that offers simple and easy steps for enabling inclusion of PwD in Corporate Sector. The booklet has been developed by the practitioners and experts on inclusion and accessibility from the industry who have applied them at their workplaces.
Some of the good practices in leading organizations were shared by senior industry leaders from ANZ Banking Group, Devyani International, Vindhya Infomedia, Royal Bank of Scotland, Yum Restaurants, Landmark Group, Aegis Limited, Titan and Nipman Group. The CEO’s shared the key ingredients for successful inclusion and mainstreaming of PwDs- passionate leadership to bring convection, vision that permeates through organization, training and sensitization of other employees, developing and encouraging a peer group for employees with special abilities and mapping a career path for each employee irrespective of their disabilities.
The conference was attended by Government and corporate sector representatives, NGOs, and inclusion, diversity and technology experts.
CII’s Initiatives on Special Abilities: Empowerment of PwDs, has been an important part of CII’s agenda for promoting and enabling inclusion. CII has been working towards mainstreaming PwDs into the workforce by sensitizing its members, facilitating employment and improving access to services and facilities.
Since 2006, CII has been empowering PwDs through initiatives like formulating a corporate code on disability, conducting job fairs, creating a job portal especially for PwDs (www.ciispecialabilityjobs.in) and organizing advocacy platforms. CII has also facilitated the setting up of PwD Sector Skill Council to bridge the gap between what this industry wants and what the skilling curriculum ought to be.
A National Committee on Special Abilities, comprising of senior industry leaders has been set up CII, with the focus to create champions within industry, making workplace accessible and promoting inclusion of PwDs. CII Foundation carries forward CII development agenda by manging high impact development projects through corporate engagement.
January 27, 2016