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Overcoming adversity in India

Salvador volunteered in India supporting people with disabilities Gitika Saksena

Salvador volunteered in India supporting people with disabilities secure work

VSO works with IBM to send groups of employees to developing countries to use technology, business and talent to solve social problems. IBM’s Corporate Service Corp (CSC) has recently been to Bangalore in Karnataka, India’s Silicon Valley. Amongst their many projects, a sub‐team were supporting Enable India, an organisation which strives to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Salvador Segura‐Ortega is part of IBM’s global HR team, located in Mexico City. Taking part in CSC, supporting people with disabilities, had an extra special meaning for Salvador, as he too has a physical disability.

A life-long volunteer

I have been a lifelong volunteer. My personal motivation comes from my passion for making a difference in society. The satisfaction of helping is as strong as the opportunity for learning from others. I had heard good things from the IBM CSC programme alumni who spoke of their rewarding time, but my own experience vastly exceeded my expectations.

Supporting people with disabilities in India

Our team were aiming to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Karnataka State is the largest software technology hub in India, with 80% of global IT companies basing their India operations in Bangalore. Yet unemployment is high amongst the disabled population – as much as 70% according to some reports – despite the revised Disability Act which now guarantees jobs for people with disabilities.

So it’s an important piece of work. For our part we supported corporations to understand how to best recruit, train and place people with disabilities within their organisations, as well as providing professional training for disabled people themselves.

Breaking down barriers

I was working with Enable India, a highly renowned NGO whose mission is to empower people with disabilities. The mission is founded on the firm belief that the disabled do not need sympathy – they need a supportive environment to grow and fulfil their needs, potential and dreams.

The overall objective of our project was to better understand the needs, requirements and barriers to hiring persons with disabilities in the IT industry. We conducted a research study with corporation leaders in India and globally, which successfully identified the specific needs of the IT sector in terms of employing persons with various disabilities. Now that this knowledge exists, IT companies can use it to improve their recruitment and employee support mechanisms.

Feeling inspired

I was really pleased to work with an NGO that had such a high level of expertise, passion and commitment towards its goal of empowering people with disabilities. Enable India’s mission and the project goals truly resonated with me. I felt equipped and motivated to help make a difference, and I now feel more mature, accomplished, and satisfied at a job well done.

Seeing things through a different lens challenges your traditional perceptions and beliefs and opens new ways of thinking. Also, being in contact with people who are thriving in spite of their disability is an inspiring and humbling experience. I am glad my company is involved in this kind of superb programme, and I come away with a renewed awareness of the need for inclusion and opportunities for all.

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