EmployABILITY – A perception changing experience

Published December 17, 2014   |   

Crayon Data recently participated in EmployABILITY – a job fair for differently able people. We were one among the 35 companies (J P Morgan, Reliance, Wipro, PayPal etc.) who participated in the event, looking for the candidates suitable to their requirements. As many as 267 candidates were shortlisted for our company and around 111 candidates attended interviews. And yes, we found the right talent suitable for Crayon and they will be further interviewed in the next few days.
I would like to share my thoughts and experiences on this trail. EmployABILITY to me has not been just about recruiting people but a life time experience I would say. It is an incredible eye-opener to be a part of such events in person.
Let me start with a hypothetical situation. You are attending a recruitment drive in a reputed college. A candidate with no vision walks into the room, what would be your initial reaction? Firstly you might be shocked because seldom do you see people with no vision in a reputed college. And if you are a sensitive person, you sympathize with him/her. Maybe you go easy on them, maybe not. The point I’d like to make is, their disability dominates the interview scene. Imagine you are asked to attend a job fair exclusively for people with disabilities. Will your mind not be filled with preconceived notions based on different stories you might have heard about people with disabilities and also a condescending feeling that you are ‘helping’ someone in need by providing job opportunities.
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Sorry if I generalized way too much, but I was just reflecting my initial thoughts when I came to know about this job fair. I was proud of Crayon for being a part of such a one of a kind event and even more proud to be part of a team which was going to recruit candidates.
The first candidate I interviewed had hearing impairment and hence was mute. We had an interpreter who helped us through the interview. This guy proved that you do not need words to express your enthusiasm and passion. Forget the interpreter, from his body language and the way he presented himself, we could gauge how passionate he was about the field he wants work in. And mind you, he was not some jobless guy who walked into a free job fair. No! He was currently working in a reputed company. He was looking for better growth options, just like every one of us.
Another candidate who caught my attention was doing his PhD in Mathematics. He is highly qualified and can be an easy pick for any multinational analytics firm. But he remains unemployed. Why? Because of the skewed perspectives of some people. Many companies are quiet indifferent when it comes to hiring people with physical disabilities. Reason being certain stereotypes. Pardon me for taking the liberty to speculate certain possible reasons why companies say no or turn a blind eye. Primary reason could be productivity. Companies might presume that a disabled person might not be as productive as other people. I personally feel, it’s a wrong notion. I met some really talented people who can work harder and might provide even better results.
The experience range of candidates who attended the job fair ranged from 0 to 22 years. What’s the common trait all these incredible people share? Their attitude towards life. What is the last thing they care about? Their disability. They give it the least attention. They are focused towards developing a better career and they dream to make it big, just like any of us. They do not need our sympathies or concern. They want us to evaluate them based purely on their skills, their resume and their passion to excel.
“It is time to look at people through the lens of their abilities, not their disabilities” – Suresh Shankar.
I am really glad and as I mentioned before, really proud that Crayon participated in an event like this. It was a perspective changing experience. My condescension transformed into respect and I feel we (I mean society as a whole) must work towards providing a competitive environment for people with disabilities to evolve and achieve goals they set for themselves and also tap the immense untapped talent they have which might help in the growth of the companies which hire them.
I hope Crayon participates in such events in the future as well and provides equitable and unbiased employment opportunities.