I came across this moving article a few months ago: For Hire: Dedicated Young Man with Down Syndrome. If you have some time to read it, please do. If tl;dr — it talks about how hard it is for someone with disability to find a job even if they are capable and amazing at doing various tasks.
My first thought after reading that article was — why isn’t there a really good job portal for the disabled. If we could gather all the disabled friendly jobs for a country in one place, that would help create a focused marketplace for employers and employees.
Excited about the idea, I immediately reached out to my friend Ashok Giri from Vindhya who runs this amazing Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) business that only employs the disabled. Ashok refers to disability as differently enabled. I asked Ashok about what he thought of the idea. He replied quickly:
There have been many attempts by various NGOs to launch a portal for this purpose and some had successfully done also but the response has been not encouraging.
I see the reason mainly because it never got marketed so both the parties know that it exists.
His response made sense — creating two sided market place is really hard. Marketing to both sides was going to require persistence.
Subsequently I sat on it thinking perhaps we could simply get it working on one of the bigger job portals (example LinkedIn, Seek, etc). They would need to introduce a new category on their portals. I did think that proof of concept would make it easier for these portals so investing in a website personally may still be worthwhile. I discussed the idea with a friend who suggested — but why do you need to prove the concept if you just share the idea with them and see what they have to say.
So I started thinking about the best execution for this. With no experience in this space, nor any real understanding about the issues I turned to Kishore (Langoor’s Chief Creative Officer). Kishore highlighted that it is also important we take in to account that the differently enabled want to be treated equally with the rest of us.
The easiest way I thought to make this work would be to create simple icons that are displayed on job boards alongside a job listing. For example a ‘differently enabled’ job would have an icon displayed next to a job posting indicating that the job was friendly for the differently enabled.
This can be extended to ‘Pet friendly’ jobs which could have a respective icon, and you could extend that to mother friendly, senior friendly, amongst others. Here is an example of an icon one of our designers quickly put together:
This can easily be extended to other categories that we thought of may be relevant:
I am fully aware of the fact that I do not fully understand how to define what these categories mean for their workplace. I think it would be up to individual employers to define it. The job portals may have a basic set of rules of what each of them means and put the onus on employers and employees to clarify it further.
The most important benefit here is not for the differently enabled. It is for the employers. If an employer has to click a button to mark whether their workplace is disabled friendly — it forces them to think about their work environment — which in itself is a very powerful thing.
Icons such as this may subjectively be incorporated in existing job portals in the following way:
There may be a better way to deploy this idea, but thinking this through in a constructive manner I feel there is a great opportunity for job websites to subtly enable a meaningful conversation about work places.