Pooja Aggarwal (Name Changed) hails from the heart of Haryana. At the age of 17 she lost her vision while she was still fostering the dream of graduating in commerce and taking up a corporate role in Finance and Accounts. She was lost – for not only did she lose her vision but her dream and purpose of life completely. Coming from an orthodox family, she faced immense challenges in being able to normalise her life. “For two years, she led a life of oblivion, where she confined herself within the four walls of her home with little hope of a future. NAB – National Association for the Blind Women, Haus Khaz became a ray of hope for her when she managed to get back on her feet. After completing a course on basic life skills, she was hired by Saarathee 5 years back, since then she has overcome many hurdles, ranging from commuting alone, to pressure from home to get married to finding a path of growth for herself,” says Richa Bansal, Founder and Managing Director, Saarathee.
The Census of India 2011 reveals an eye-opening statistical profile stating the presence of 11.9 million females with disabilities, yet only 23% of differently-abled females have been employed across the agricultural sector, manufacturing sector, government-sponsored programs, or are self-employed. A shift in the hiring process within the private sector has initiated the discovery of untapped potential. “By extending employment opportunities to females with disabilities, organizations open the floor to yield employee productivity, loyalty, and reduced absenteeism while creating a supportive business climate. When it comes to career advancement and life satisfaction, women with disabilities experience more emotional distress than those without disabilities,” says Seema Rekha, Managing Director, Antarmanh Consulting.
This distress stems from a disparity of equal opportunities at various employment and developmental levels such as training conditions, compensation, and other privileges of employment. This discrimination can be disheartening and serves as an unintentional rebuff that demotivates individuals from joining private corporations. “An inclusive environment that prioritizes diversity and emphasizes improving the work experience of the employees would be beneficial. Additionally, ensuring the installation of inclusive designs would improve the accessibility of the work set-up,” adds Rekha. Allowing room for flexibility, and providing aid and opportunities to the disabled population would ensure that they are more creative and engaged. It’s imperative that organizations become pioneers of inclusive work culture to cultivate diverse perspectives and crop better business outcomes.
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Working in the space of disability inclusion, “I feel disabled women are far more disadvantaged than any other segment of society. It’s therefore even more important for organisations to work on the mental wellness of such women to help them gain confidence and see purpose in life. It has been our endeavour to encourage women focused initiatives which allows women to bond and share their stories – this helps empower them and also brings hope to each other. A safe space to share works wonders for them,” signs off Bansal.
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