When Performance Transcends Physicalities

DQI Bureau
New Update

The term "handicapped" or "physically

challenged" is now applicable only to those who are lazy, incompetent or

lethargic. Ask the IT heads in Bangalore. They have a lot of positive things to

say about the people with disabilities employed in their organization and their

performance: greater empathy towards customers and loyalty for the organization.

Greater chances of retaining this knowledge capital has turned the attention of

BPO organization to including people with disabilities in their payrolls.


BPO companies have a plan of action that focuses on attracting

and retaining people with disabilities. They are also collaborating with NGOs to

recruit deserving candidates. People with disabilities are employed in various

segments like quality assurance and desk oriented job in verticals like banking,

finance, and insurance.



The IT/BPO sector in the

state of Karnataka is estimated to have provided employment to over 5,000

physically challenged

The percentage of employment
of physically disabled in each industry varies

from 2-5%
depending upon job specifications.

Source: Department of IT,

BT, and S&T, Karnataka government


Workplace Solutions

Workplace solutions differ from organization to organization based on
policies they follow. For example, many have put up ramps/escalators instead of

steps, installation of wheel chair slopes for easy movement within the facility,

specially equipped vehicles for home pick up and drop, buddies for their

guidance and help, and special training courses keeping in view the nature of

their disability. However, these people are being hired on the basis of merit

and not out of sympathy because at the end of the day, organizations want


"The basic infrastructure is lacking due to which people

with disabilities feel neglected. There is a need to create an environment which

makes the surrounding environment congenial to their free movement. If the

environment is unfriendly, they will hesitate even more." says JP

Shivakumara Swamy, founder, iCAD Engineering.

"We have approximately sixty employees, and to cater to

those with visual impairment we have installed the JAWS software and screen

magnifiers for those with low vision." explains Menu Bhambhani, manager,

Community Initiative, MphasiS.


"Before employing, we hired a specialist in this area not

only to facilitate the initiative but also to review our policies and

procedures. Today, we have an Equal Opportunities Team to look into the

Diversity & Affirmative Action initiatives of the company," said

Nandita Gurjar, VP, HR, Infosys BPO. Organizations also conduct sensitization

programs for other employees to ensure a friendly work environment.

Integration with HR

Employment of people with disabilities is not merely a corporate social
responsibility (CSR) that companies are following, but a part of HR practices.

Providing employment is not a corporate social responsibility, but also makes

fine business sense. IT/BPO industries in Karnataka are quite considerate on

this issue and have employed a good number of physically challenged persons.


"Some companies have made it a non-traditional hiring

policy to recruit a certain percentage of physically challenged persons,"

says MN Vidyashankar, secretary to the government, department of IT,

Biotechnology, S&T, Karnataka government

"The government will

not subsidize employment; it would not be progressive in the long


"December is celebrated

as "Diversity Month", to enhance Disability Awareness within the


"It is no more seen in

terms of social responsibility, but as a part of a social movement"

MN Vidyashankar,

secretary to government, dept of IT, BT, S&T, Karnataka government

Nandita Gurjar, VP,

HR, Infosys BPO

JP Shivakumarswamy, founder,

iCAD Engineering


Training and Performance

Parameters to map the performance of people with disabilities dont differ
from other employees. People with disabilities have to perform at par with other

employees as employers provide them with all the facilities to improve their

productivity. The

training conducted is no different from that of other employees. The main aim of
the organization has been to make people with disabilities feel that they are

equal, on one hand, and on the other, that the rest of the employees should see

them at par and work with them as a team.

"Competency-based trainings range from presentation skills

to advanced analytical skills. Special emphasis is given in providing these

employees with fire safety training which is conducted every quarter,

emergency evacuation techniques, and other risk management

strategies," says Nandita Gurjar.

"Specific methodologies have been devised depending on

individual needs," said Mohit Jain, chief innovation officer, 24x7.


Recruitment Process

BPOs like MphasiS and Infosys carry one-liners in advertisements which say they
are hiring people with disabilities. Infosys also organizes special recruitment

drives solely targeted at increasing the representation of persons with

disabilities among the workforce. And, the recruitment assessment processes are

disability-friendly as well. For instance, question papers for candidates with

low vision is provided in a large font size and sign language interpreters are

engaged to assist hearing impaired people.


Team at iCAD Engineering

The Mysore-based iCAD Engineering

received the Best employer for physically challenged award, in

recognition to its contribution in mobilizing the physically challenged

community by giving them employment in the organization. Software

Technology Parks of India, Department of IT, BT, S&T, and the

Karnataka government instituted the award jointly.

Today, the Mysore design center of

iCAD Engineering has 100 employees and 15 of them are physically

challenged. About 70% of these belong to rural Karnataka. Three of these

individuals are among the ten employees who were recognized for their

outstanding contribution to the growth of the organization.

Several initiatives taken up

by iCAD:

  • Earn While You Learn: in

    collaboration with JSSPH, iCAD will extend assistantship to fifth

    semester students hailing from an economically weak background,

    wherein these students will get training in 3D Modeling and also get

    the opportunity to work as part time employees in iCAD. There are

    plans to also include the students from lower semester in his program.

  • Campus Interview: to

    infuse confidence in people with disabilities and make them better

    equipped for facing interviews.

  • Communication Skills

    Training: training in English speaking so that they are better

    equipped when opting for jobs in urban areas.

  • Visually Oriented

    Training: Special training for visually impaired to bring them at par

    with other employees. There are also plans to engage an interpreter to

    train deaf employees.


A Bright Future

With more and more organizations becoming aware of the potential workforce,
a bright future awaits people with disabilities. Organizations which already

have people with disabilities are planning to increase the number. Infosys BPO

is planning to raise the percentage to about five, while 24x7 wants to raise it

to 20.

These organizations now have all the systems in place to utilize

this segment which so far has been underutilized. Challenges have been

understood and, accordingly, policies have been altered to ensure effective

functioning, and facilities are being extended to ensure productivity. There are

organizations which are counting on the WiMax technology so that they can

kick-start the concept of working from home.

H Chethana Gadiyar