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In collaboration with PPC worldwide, MD & CEO of SAI Pvt. Ltd., Swarnalatha Iyer, held a webinar for employees of Accenture on the 5th of December. This was in connection with World Disability Day, observed on the 2nd of December. The webinar involved people from the management and mid- managerial levels, along with employees with disability, and addressed an aspect of prime concern with respect to working environment.
The agenda for this webinar was two-fold:
1. To address employees with disabilities and orient them on how they can utilize Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to enable themselves to adapt successfully to their working environment.
2. To address team leads and managers on how they can employ certain practices at the workplace to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness, where people with disabilities feel valued and motivated.
Statistics show that:
- 40% of employed people with disabilities said that they have encountered job discrimination
- 33% of employed people with disabilities report that they have encountered “unfavorable attitudes” toward their disabilities on the job
- 22% of employers cite supervisor/co-worker attitudes and stereotypes as a major barrier to employment & advancement of employees with disabilities
- 15% of non-disabled people report not feeling comfortable working for, or nearby, a person with a disability
An inclusive working environment is about more than just giving everyone equal opportunities. It is about allowing people to be themselves at work, valuing differences and letting them know that their contribution is valued. At its most basic level it is about ensuring that no one feels left out because of their age, gender, race, nationality, religion or belief, sexual orientation, physical or mental disabilities or social background. To achieve inclusion in the workplace, we need to consider the needs of the unique individuals who make up our organization – not put them into boxes based on a certain characteristic, particularly when we have a diverse group of individuals who possess different skills.
The only thing that distinguishes a person with disability is that they may be unable to do certain things in the same way that most people in the mainstream of society do them without some form of adaptation or alteration to assist them overcome the effects of their disability. No two people with the same disability experience their disability in the same way.
Those who have physical, sensory and/or intellectual impairments are automatically put on a much more effective and fulfilling road to a good, complete, and ‘full’ life if they are looked at and valued by society from the outset as totally “normal” people who just happen to have these “extra differences.”
An inclusive culture can have a number of benefits….. If individuals feel valued, they are more likely to add value in return, boosting the overall productivity. Moreover, working effectively in teams depends on getting everyone involved so that individual competencies can shine through. If the workplace is an inclusive one, the employees will work more effectively together and everyone will reap the rewards.
MD & CEO, Swarnalatha Iyer, recently conducted a two-day workshop on personality development for the students of University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru. The need for a programme of this nature was felt by the management as majority of the students were from a rural background. Therefore, the topics decided were such that students could gain maximum benefit from the workshop.
The topics covered were:
- Building Self- confidence
- Communication Skills
- Positive Mental Attitude
- Time Management
- Motivation & Goal Setting
The workshop consisted of games, exercises, group discussions and practice sessions to help students reflect upon their behaviour and thereby create a positive shift in their thinking and actions. The feedback from students towards this programme was very positive. They expressed their need for more of such programmes.
Swarnalatha says: “The students were highly interactive, and participated with zeal and enthusiasm, though the workshop was scheduled over the weekend. Overall it was a very satisfying experience for me. At the onset, students shared their apprehensions with me- most of them had certain inhibitions owing to their rural background. By the close of day 2, the same students expressed to me how I had helped them to uncover their strengths and goodness, and had motivated them to tap into their potential fearlessly. Such experiences fuel my passion for empowering talented youngsters.”