At a time when the government is working to build a disabled-friendly environment, leading brands here are following suit by making employment more inclusive. Individuals with hearing and speech impairment can now be seen taking orders and manning billing counters at different outlets of brands like KFC and Sagar Ratna, among others. They communicate with customers and execute their jobs efficiently with the use of placards that have necessary questions written on them. Besides offering jobs, the employers are also creating "tailor-made" working environments that are conducive to the needs of the differently-abled. The Saket outlet of Sagar Ratna here conducts an exclusive 15-day "familiarising drive" for the differently-abled after hiring them, during which they are provided with a set of roles to choose from. "Hiring is just one thing, the challenge is to make their working environment comfortable. After the hiring, we organise a 15-day long familiarisation drive where they are told about different set of jobs they can pick and choose from. We don't necessarily do the same drill for other employees," says Rajiv Singh, Head HR, Sagar Ratna. While only a few differently-abled employees are on roll at the outlet, the restaurant is looking to increase the number in the coming year. According to Singh, one of the major challenges in creating a conducive environment is the sensitisation of their co-workers. "If you talk about customers, they adjust to it smoothly. But we were very cautious about how the rest of the staff will react.
We have to understand that they will be working under other pressures as well. So, workshops were organised to train them," he says. KFC, which has over 170 differently-abled employees across the country, says it has taken a "360 degree approach" with special programmes to hire and train their staff. "Our differently-abled restaurant programmes are driven by a 360 degree approach to develop specially-abled teams, with a focus on hiring, training and creating an enabling work environment with tailored equipments," says Rahul Shinde, Managing Director, KFC. The brand also gives its specially-abled employees an opportunity to compete against their fellow workers in terms of performance at work. It recently promoted six such workers to the post of shift managers. "We are proud of six of our differently-abled shift managers who have successfully cleared our internal process to rise through the ranks. There is sense of pride not in them alone, but also their peers and families," says Shinde. Software company Microsoft went disabled-friendly, with the establishment of their Disability Employee Resource Group in 2009. "The group represents employees with conditions such as hearing loss, blindness, visual impairments, ADD, mobility disabilities, and dyslexia. "Besides, the company also has an 'Autism Hiring programme', which is a multiple-day hands on academy that focuses on work ability, team projects and skills assessment," says Rohit Thakur, Head Human Resources, Microsoft India.
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