PwD Inclusion Imperative For Businesses Today: Priyanka Mohanty

Hiring PwD candidates not only adds to the cause of social inclusion but also brings an element of competitive edge to the business says Mohanty.


Persons with Disabilities form a significant aspect of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) framework in most organizations. 

Organisations, today, understand that diversity goes beyond simply acknowledging differences in people. It, rather, involves recognizing the value of differences, combating discrimination, and promoting inclusiveness.

Startek, winner of the BW People Ask Insights Disability Positive Award for leading representation of PwD employees,[KJ1] epitomizes how companies should lead with their D&I and PwD inclusion initiatives to become an employer of choice.

"There is an imperative need for equal opportunity and inclusion wherein organizations need to ensure that all workplace policies and practices are free from discrimination and any differently-abled applicant should be considered for employment according to their aptitudes, abilities and qualifications," quips Priyanka Mohanty, Vice President – HR, Startek.

Sensitisation crucial aspect in bringing D&I consciousness

For D&I leaders like Startek, the focus has moved towards sensitization at a very granular level when it comes to addressing the aspect of representation of PwD employees in the workforce. Underlying the theme of the sensitization programs, Mohanty says,

“Sensitization programs are implemented with a focus on understanding various kinds of disabilities and their causes, challenging some of the general assumptions, attitudes, values and beliefs regarding disability, providing them support without making them feel different.”

Talking about the key differentiators which make Startek, a pioneer for PwD inclusion, she adds that leadership support is an important facet in the holistic process for empowering differently-abled people at work. Besides this, training supervisors/line managers is important to ensure that they take utmost care while dealing with persons with disabilities. Employee-driven groups for community engagementAt Startek, affinity groups for persons with disabilities are created which are voluntary, employee-driven groups that typically focus on shared interests. These groups provide support and enable networking opportunities such as mentoring, community outreach, career development and cultural awareness activities. 

"PwD clubs are formed where members can discuss topics as diverse as value-addition to any initiative, to partner with a socially sustainable growth model and discuss suggestions for improvement”, Mohanty tells BW People.

PwD inclusion imperative for businesses today

Companies like Startek have realized the value that diversity management, especially PwD inclusion, brings to the scheme of things. Hiring PwD candidates not only adds to the cause of social inclusion but also brings an element of competitive edge to the business. 

To drive the point home, Mohanty says, 

"Many companies now view diversity management as a way of addressing the need to reflect the diversity of their customer set and employees who can understand better and communicate with them. This will definitely result in better customer and supplier relationships, which in turn could lead to improved financial performance." 

Getting the most productive outcome for any organization boils down to getting the best out of every employee group. A diversified employee base, including PwD candidates, means more heads to think and more creative minds to act. It, ultimately, has a positive bearing on the organization, believes Mohanty.   

As companies steadily awaken to the possibilities and benefit PwD inclusion brings from a cultural, social and financial perspective, shining examples like Startek make a compelling case for more organisations to take concrete steps in this direction.

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