Yojana Sharma, Helping The Specially Abled To Enter The ‘CORPORATE WORLD’
Having a Creative background, what made you start jobsfordisabled.org?
Yes, I have extensive experience of creative writing and digital space. I am a blogger as well. Naturally I caught on the nuances of new media techniques like blogging and social media very early. For long I wanted to do something that could bring the power of internet to the people who need it most. I dabbled with couple of ideas, including for a neo blog for senior citizens. Many ideas caught my fancy but then I didn’t feel too committed to those ideas for long. When I thought of starting a job site for specially abled professionals, I realized this is what I was looking for long. This way I could help the specially abled people in the best way – bring job opportunities to them at the mere click of a mouse.
Two year ago, when I prepped up for motherhood I decided that this was the best time to nurture my dream project as well. And trust me last two years have been a roller coaster ride – raising a kid and an entrepreneurial venture. When somebody says thank you for sharing a job listing, it makes my day.
What challenges you face in getting jobs for Specially Abled at Corporates?
There are two aspects to it – first is the interest level of the corporates, second is the lethargic attitude of our society at large towards the disabled professionals. Traditionally, the realms like helping the less privileged or employing specially abled professionals falls in the corporate social responsibility sphere. Ideally any business house or corporate should be using about 2-3% of their budget and manpower focusing this area. On the ground, the story is different for many.
Indian corporate sphere is still waking up to the fact their premises should be “accessible” to all. And that includes the campuses, facilities, furnishings, work sphere and even the work environment and colleague attitude. Most corporate houses still have to understand that their campuses have to accommodate professionals who come on a wheelchair or walk around with a pair of crutches or use sign language. Very few have genuine interest in helping the society by hiring disabled professionals or supporting their livelihood via other means. Things are changing, though at a sluggish pace.
The second aspect is more poignant about our attitude towards disabled professionals. How many of us will happily help a blind professional complete his file work or take a wheelchair bound colleague from canteen to parking? Some of us may rue, “what’s the need to work?” But let’s also realize that even disabled professionals want to run their families on their own, want to give bright future to their kids and support their families.
What kind of enthusiasm and courage you see in disabled people for having a professional life?
Ever since we started the website, we have received a great response from the disabled professionals. We have more than 2000+ subscribers for our job updates via email. About 600 disabled people from varied backgrounds have send us their resumes for job prospects. Most of them write to us with keen desire to support their families and look after themselves. You will be surprised that from interior designers to IT engineers, disabled people are working in every sphere and making a decent living for themselves.
You are trying to bridge the gap. How does it feel ?
Initially, jobsfordisabled.org was a simple job listing website where we posted job related details and moved on. Gradually we started getting email subscription requests from interested people. Also, both employers as well as job seekers started writing to us eagerly with all sorts of varied requests including assisting in vocational training and even career guidance. We have recently crossed the 2000+ mark for email subscribers for our daily updates. We now want to develop it as a full-fledged job site where both job seekers and employers can post updates independently. Also, we will have a resource center to help people with news and information that they can use. A revamp is in the pipeline. That means a whole lot of exciting times for us and our users as well.
What does women’s day means to you?
For me, every day is women’s day. Every other day our moms, sisters, sister in laws, daughters, friends, domestic helps put up numerous tasks to make everyone else’s life comfortable and happy. And March 8 comes as just a gentle reminder that we should just go and say a big thank you all the woman folk around, and that includes our maids and helps too 🙂
How empowered you feel as a woman today, in Delhi?
Women from urban spheres today have a better chance to make a living, career and to some extent live the way they want to. In the villages too, the society is shedding its conservative fragment and women achievers from every social strata have proven why things should have changed ages ago. Young couples today are far more accommodative of working wives, the in-laws now know that creating hurdles for their daughter-in-laws will only make things difficult at their own household. Things are changing, but yes the challenges remain.
As told to