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Employment Practices of the Corporate Sector

Introduction

Even though disabled people constitute a significant 6 percent of our population, yet their basic needs for social security, individual dignity and meaningful employment remain unmet, their lives mired in vicious patterns of helpless cynicism, political inertia and poor social innovations that are no antidote to any long term solutions. The Disability Act 1995 provides for 3 percent reservation in all categories of jobs in the government sector. Though it was notified more than three years ago, its adaptation and implementation has left much to be desired.

Role of the Corporate Sector

People with disabilities are vulnerable to social devaluation and negatives identities. To truly effect a change in this we need to enhance their capabilities since social value is usually accorded to people who are perceived to be competent and skilled. Every little effort can make an enormous difference, hope can overcome cynicism and tenacity can prevail over material if citizens of a society can harness the most powerful energy in the world -- human talent -- to the task of adapting to the demands of the 21st century. This is where the corporate sector can play a crucial role. With their vast employment generating potential and strong fiscal power, they need to go beyond mere legal compliance. The corporates have to be seen to practice a district social responsibility, transcending purely business concerns and be inspired by social sensitivity, awareness, conscience and compassion. In today's consumerist culture, it is possible only when the focus shifts to a mutually beneficial enterprise rather than mere charity.

Role of NCPEDP

NCPEDP is a non-profit voluntary organisation working as an interface between the government industry, NGOs, voluntary sector and international agencies towards the promotion of better employment opportunities for people with disabilities. At the core of NCPEDP’s work lies the belief that no economic rehabilitation can be meaningful without appropriate vocational training, which would necessarily include identifying appropriate trades and vocation in which the disabled may be trained and placed. NCPEDP aims to promote interaction between the industry and NGOs facilitate training and placement while the industry helps NGOs with appropriate job identification and management support for the requisite training.

Objectives of the corporate research study

The immediate impetus for this study was the harsh fact that about 70 million people of the country are affected by disability and the ugly truth that only a miniscule number of about one lakh people have succeeded in getting regular employment in the last 40 odd years! The main objective of the research study was to reflect on the employment practices of the corporate sector (both public and private) with disabilities. Other important objectives are listed below:

  • To review the current employment scenario in the corporate sector in the context of the Disability Act, which was passed in December 1995 and reserves 3 percent of all categories of jobs for disabled people in the public sector, incentives (yet to be defined though!) are provided to those companies who ensure that at least 5 percent of their workforce is composed of persons with disabilities (Clause 4).
  • To identify those companies out of India’s top 100, who have exhibited civic/social responsibility versus those who are lacking in this respect.
  • To explore the areas of differences in employment practices of public sector and private sector.
  • To create a baseline index for monitoring changing patterns of employment scenario in the corporate world with particular emphasis on people with disabilities.

Business India Super 100

The Super 100 ranking of the corporate sector by Business India reflects the changing trends of industrial growth in a post -liberalised India. The three broad groups included in the corporate sector consist of the public sector, the private sector and multinationals.

Sample Size: For the purpose of this study, only those companies were considered who figured in the Super 100 ranking of Business India. The companies were so ranked on four parameters: sales, profits, assets, and market capitalisation for the financial year 1997-98. For any further details, please refer to Business India issue dated November 16 to 29, 1998.
Out of the sample size of 100 top companies of India, the sectoral break-up is as given below:

  • Public sector companies: 23
  • Private sector companies: 63
  • Multinational companies: 14

Research questionnaire

The questionnaire had four structured questions to facilitate easy answering. It was couriered to all the 100 companies. The questionnaire sought information on the total number of employees in the company, the number of employees with disabilities (if any) and the type of impairment, mental impairment and any other. If the company responded under any other column, it was asked to specify the type of impairment/s that it was listing.

Collection and compilation of Data

The research questionnaire was sent to the super 100 companies by courier during the period 7th January, 1999-15th January, 1999. The last date for receiving the responses was 15th March as the responses were trickling in very slowly. Reminder telegrams and faxes were sent. Personal phone calls were also made. These efforts catalysed the rate of responses and when the entries were finally closed on 15th March, 1999 evening, we had received a total of 70 responses. The results and the findings of this research study are thus based on the response of 70 'top’ companies of India.

Reactions, rejections and responses

Many companies either lost or misplaced the questionnaire or just clamed up! They were then sent fresh copies by courier/fax and were duly reminded on the phone. Some organisations forwarded the questionnaire to a different address. Several companies were notoriously late in responding, while a few were openly resistant if not hostile to the reminders on phone, and did not bother to respond.

Results

Company details

  • Total number of companies that responded to the questionnaire: 70
  • Public sector companies that responded:20
    (Out of 23; response rate: 86.96%)
  • Private sector companies that responded: 40
    (Out of 63; Response rate: 63.49%)
  • Multinational companies that responded:10
    (Out of 14; Response Rate: 71.43%)

Employee details

  • Total number of employees in the respondent companies: 7,96,363
  • Total number of employees with disabilities in the responded companies: 3,160
  • Percentage of disabled employees in the respondent companies: 0.40%
  • Companies that have employees with locomotor Impairment: 43/50=86%
  • Companies that have employees with visual impairment: 36/50=72%
  • Companies that have employees with speech/hearing impairment: 35/50=70%
  • Companies that have employees with mental impairment: 2/50=4%
  • Percentage of employees with locomotor impairment 77.35%
  • Percentage of employees with visual Impairment: 10.82%
  • Percentage of employees with speech/hearing impairment: 9.05%
  • Percentage of employees with mental impairment: 0.62%
  • Percentage of employees with other disabilities: 2.15%

Public Sector

  • Percentage of employees with disabilities in the public sector: 0.54%
  • Percentage of employees with locomotor impairment: 82.21%
  • Percentage of employees with visual impairment: 10.82%
  • Percentage of employees with speech/hearing Impairment: 7.74%
  • Percentage of employees with mental impairment: Nil
  • Percentage of employees with other disabilities: Nil

Private Sector

  • Percentage of employees with disabilities in the private sector: 0.28%
  • Percentage of employees with locomotor Impairment: 82.21%
  • Percentage of employees with visual impairment: 10.05%
  • Percentage of employees with speech/hearing Impairment: 7.74%
  • Percentage of employees with mental impairment: 2.99%
  • Percentage of employees with other disabilities: 10 .13%

Multinationals

  • Percentage of employees with disabilities in the Multinationals: 0.05%
  • Percentage of employees with locomotor Impairment: 37.50%
  • Percentage of employees with Visual Impairment: 12.50%
  • Percentage of employees with Speech/hearing Impairment; 46.88%
  • Percentage of employees with Mental Impairment: Nil
  • Percentage of employees with Other Disabilities: 3.12%

Findings

The results point towards a rather dismal trend in terms of the current employment practices in the corporate sector with regard to people with disabilities. The government apathetic attitude is amply reflected in the miniscule percentage of disabled employees even in the public sector organisations who arguably have a larger workforce and for whom it is mandatory to have 3 percent reservation for disabled persons. Other imported find include:

  • Out of the 70 respondent companies, 20 companies do not employ any disabled person at all! These include such companies (big names) as Castrol India Ltd. with a workforce of 1,300; Colgate Palmolive (India) Ltd. with a workforce of 1,500; Eveready Industries India Ltd. with a workforce of 4,700; and the Bombay Dyeing & mfg. Co. Ltd. with a workforce of 10,000.
  • The average percentage of employees with disabilities in the respondent companies was found to be a dismal 0.40 percent.
  • Out of the 70 respondent companies, only 10 were found to have 1 percent or above employees.
  • In majority of the respondent companies (40 out of 70), the percentage of the disabled workforce ranged between 0.01 percent to 0.09 percent. Percentages sometimes do not reveal the entire truth. A close study of the table below will expose as to how sad and unfortunate the situation really is:
    Name of the company Total workforce No. of Disabled Employees
    Hindustan Lever 40,000 4 (0.01%)
    Indian Hostels Co. 13,000 2 (0.01%)
    Mahindra & Mahindra 16,000 16 (0.10%)
    Century Textiles Industries 10,659 14 (0.13%)
    Glaxo India 4,296 7 (0.16%)
    Escorts 10,900 49 (0.45%)
    Bajaj Auto 9,611 46 (0.48%)
    Hero Honda Motors 3,055 17 (0.56%)
    MRF 8,500 72 (0.85%)
  • It is disheartening to note that there is no company amongst the Super 100 where even 2 percent of the workforce is comprised of disabled persons. In 1997 itself, the government fixed a quota of 3 percent for disabled people in the public sector. The Disability Act 1995 guarantees incentives to both public and private sector, employers provided their workforce is composed of at least 5 percent disabled people. Forget 5 percent even if our dream target is 3 percent, we still have a long way to go!
  • Percentage of people with locomotor disabilities was found to be the highest among the disabled employees, giving rise to the suspicion that their disability is likely to be minimal/negligible.
  • Percentage of employees with mental impairment was found to be the lowest, confirming the stigma/prejudice that still dictates the employment practices in India.
  • The response received from the public sector companies was much better (86.96%) than the response of the private sector companies (63.49%). Multinational companies also responded positively (71.43%).
  • The average percentage of employment of people with disabilities is as follows - in the public sector: 0.54 percent; in the private sector: 0.28 percent; and in the multinationals: 0.05 percent. It is indeed very surprising to note the extremely low (almost negligible) percentage of disabled employees in the multinational companies since most of them are from countries which have rather strict quotas/laws for employing people with disabilities.

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