The IT-BPO company in India created a platform where people with
disabilities are successfully hired and nurtured to their fullest
potential in a truly inclusive environment. The company has 287
people with disabilities (about 1.5 percent of its workforce)
employed in various jobs. Any new facility that Infosys creates
will be built fully accessible to people with disabilities.
The initiative is carried out by the company's equal opportunity
team, recruitment team, training team, training managers, and team
leaders and managers. Infosys is the first Indian IT - BPO company
to set up a diversity office that's sole focus is to promote
diversity and inclusivity.
"By valuing and respecting differences and similarities in the
workplace, we are now at a better position to win," says
Raghavendra K, vice president and head of HR for Infosys BPO. "Our
policy is to be an equal opportunity employer, and to foster an
inclusive workplace for employees to contribute to the success of
our business by encouraging and enabling them to draw fully on
Infosys began this culture shift in 2005 by initiating discussions
with the National Center for Promotion of Employment for Disabled
People and other organizations. Then a specialist was hired to
facilitate the change, including the review of policies and
procedures. The equal opportunity team currently oversees this
The message in the company's recruitment advertisements has changed
to include the line: "Persons with disabilities are welcome to
apply." The company also organizes several special recruitment
drives solely targeted at people with disabilities. Its recruitment
assessment processes have been made "disability-friendly" as well
(for example, for people with visual impairments, the questions are
printed in large font).
Infosys has also developed a specific standard recruitment process
to ensure that new employees with disabilities are welcomed into
the company and receive the assistance they need to complete their
job responsibilities. This includes the sensitization of team
members and other employees, classes to teach sign language to
other team members of hearing impaired employees, and other
training. Company buses are equipped with special electronic floors
so people who are unable to climb steps can still use the
transportation provided by the company. Sign language interpreters
are also present at company functions and training events.
In the onboarding process, all employees are encouraged to fill out
a self-identification form, which not only explains the company's
equal opportunity policy, but also provides a chance for people
with disabilities to seek any required assistance.
A regular disability access audit has led to ramps and accessible
washrooms in newly constructed buildings, an emergency preparedness
plan for evacuation, and mock fire drills. During a recent fire
drill, all employees, including those with disabilities, evacuated
the building safely in five minutes.
Guidelines for how to make web content accessible to people with
disabilities was distributed to web content designers and page
authors to promote accessibility. Infosys paired with AirTel, a
mobile service company in India, to connect its hearing-impaired
employees to the website. Infyability, the company's first-ever
website that is accessible to all employees regardless of
disabilities, is a comprehensive portal where information about all
disabilities is available.
"Infyability gives people with disabilities a platform to come
together, but it also gives everybody else a chance to interact
with these truly special people," says Raghavendra K.
This initiative has not only had a positive impact on Infosys, but
it has also affected the way people with disabilities are viewed in
the community and country.
By giving people with disabilities the opportunity to make a living
and support their families with a good fulltime job, the
organization has helped them gain respect and dignity in the
community. Employees in Infosys also have become more sensitive to
the needs of others. This initiative also has set a recruitment
trend that is slowly being adopted by other Indian companies, and
has increased awareness and the rights of people with disabilities
in the community.
"One of the greatest positive impacts was an increase in the
confidence level of people with disabilities," says Dependra
Mathur, assistant vice president and director of HR for Infosys
BPO. "Also, they were bestowed more admiration and respect among
their family members and in their immediate social circle. There
has also been a great degree of acceptance among their peers,
co-workers, and supervisors."
By tapping this group of talented individuals, Infosys has sent a
strong message about inclusion and diversity to employees in its
workplace. The company also has seen a more stable, loyal, and
productive workforce as a result of this initiative.
"The myth that implementation of a practice of this kind would
affect the productivity, training costs, recruitment expenses, and
workplace culture adversely was shattered," says Mathur.