Is an Inclusive Workforce Still a Distant Dream? As the world celebrates the National Disability Employment Awareness month, we take a look at what businesses are doing to create an inclusive workforce

By Komal Nathani

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While most companies are making an effort to have a diverse workforce, which could inculcate everyone in the organization regardless of their gender or creed, the disabled workforce is still an ignored section in the industry.

A National Survey conducted by University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability says that only 28 per cent of companies have disability hiring goals. Most employers have effective programmes for accommodating workers with disabilities, but they often overlook recruiting and training processes that could expand employment opportunities, it adds.

In the month of National Disability Employment Awareness, we take a look at what companies are doing to empower disability hiring and what policies they have implemented to do so.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took it to social media to explain how advanced technologies like AI can be applied to transform everyday life for the more than 1 billion people with disabilities. Nadella has released a video of his own team member explaining the project she is working on and how disability couldn't stop her to where she is today. Anne Taylor from Microsoft's accessibility team shares how Seeing AI enables her to turn the visual world into an audible experience.

Today the tech companies are all the rage about workplace inclusion. Microsoft is not the only tech company, which is making serious efforts for workplace inclusion, as companies like IBM Corporation, Ernst and Young, Procter & Gamble, Aetna and many others have built policies on disability employment.

Another IT company, IBM Corporation has received exceptionally high marks from employees for providing a disability-friendly workplace in the global market. The company requires all employees to participate in a disability awareness training program and has other programs in place to recruit, hire, and retain disabled employees.

Similarly, Cisco Systems offers alternative career tracks and telecommuting opportunities for disabled employees. The company welcomes diversity and inclusion and is committed to creating products and services that are accessible to people with disabilities. They also offer onsite health centres and pharmacies, as well as healthcare incentives.

Currently, in the process of building a strong diversity inclusive workplace, the insurance leader Aetna has released a list of additional privileges for the disabled workforce. The company offers onsite fitness centres, pharmacies, physical therapists, and massage services. For disabled employees, in particular, Aetna provides alternative career tracks and telecommuting.

Government's Push for Disability Employment

An effective inclusion in job sector can't be denied by the governments. In India, the legislation to ensure gender inclusion in the public and private sectors passed in 2016 and 2017. According to the amended law in India, around 3 per cent of the total workforce must comprise of differently-abled people.

Two years ago, Japan also passed a new law aimed at eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. The employment rate for disabled workers in Japan is 48.6 per cent, compared with 59 per cent for the overall workforce, according to government statistics.

Other countries in Asia are still in process to give disabled workforce a fair cent of reservation to empower them in both public and private sectors.

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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