Football is a beautiful game – a stunning spectacle that gets the adrenaline pumping for both the players and the audience, even when it is essentially about getting the ball in the net. For the young and the old, football is a religion. Like other children of his age, young Yusuf Multani was enamored by the game too. However, a birth defect in his left leg made it extremely challenging for him.
Yusuf’s difficulty in walking and running led him to grow up in a restricted environment. However, he resolved that while living with a disability is not easy, it does not have to be a tragedy. In 2012, Yusuf Multani joined Cadila Pharma at the Ankleshwar campus as a contract worker in Hospitality. Finding employment in Cadila helped him take control of his life and improved his independence, sense of empowerment, and outlook.
“When struggling with a disability, it’s easy to feel completely misunderstood and alone. But staying connected to others makes a world of difference in one’s mood and outlook. I feel good in Cadila and I’m treated very well by my peers and colleagues. I am currently a contract worker, but trying to learn new tasks.” says a cheerful Yusuf.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) “Globally, there are over one billion people with disabilities. They are now more active in our society than ever before. Yet employment rates are low and many barriers to work still exist.” It is thus imperative that organizations – public, private and non-profit- make a concerted effort to remove these barriers and biases to allow disability inclusion.
The story of Rohit Thakurbhai working in the Housekeeping department in Cadila is a proof of how inclusivity can empower individuals. “Most of us expect to live long, healthy lives. So when you’re hit by a disabling illness or injury, it can trigger a range of unsettling emotions and fears. You may wonder how you’ll be able to work, find or keep a relationship, or even be happy again,” says Rohit. He met with an accident few years ago resulting in a leg injury making normal life difficult. However, securing employment has given him a sense of purpose.
Since its inception, Cadila has been acting as a facilitator of change. Instead of just funding government and local bodies, Cadila plays an active role. In association with different NGOs the company conducted surveys in the neighbouring villages and selected around 15 people for prospective employment positions on the Dholka and Ankleshwar campuses.
A business should aim to showcase equality and diversity in the workplace, in the sense that any applicant or employee is given fair treatment to carry out their job without issue. Welcoming disability within the workplace is not only the right thing to do, but it also welcomes a vast selection of benefits too. Employees learn from one another. With different strengths and experiences, fresh ideas are brought to the table creating an environment of development. Customers value companies that show a real commitment towards inclusion as well.
As Stephen Hawking said, “We have a moral duty to remove the barriers to participation, and to invest sufficient funding and expertise to unlock the vast potential of people with disabilities.” It is important to view disability inclusion not merely as a corporate compliance, but an overall effort for social change. Every individual has unique abilities that might be of great value to the organization. It is time for organizations and society at large to shift the focus from what’s lacking in people, to recognizing their unique abilities and utilizing those in a productive manner.