Gear up to be more inclusive

Indifferent behaviour owing to socio-economic strata or religious ranks, are no more the hurdles of our society. Atleast not as much as it would have been in the past few decades. We are struggling with a far more concerning issue at hand, and that’s about – how do we behave a little more human. In other words, can we learn to be inclusive. 

Last couple of years have brought to the forefront the need to be inclusive, especially when it comes to special kids and adults. With the massive population explosion in our country, fetching basic necessities such as – home, food and clothing – all of us are running with no place to slow down or adhere to special needs. Why haven’t elders made it mandatory to be helpful towards anyone with special needs – be it physically or neurologically – especially not make fun of the one’s in need. 

Costa Coffee reminded us that deaf and mute adults can be wonderful at serving a great cup of coffee. Mumbai based Mirch & Mime introduced us to the differently-abled efficiently taking our orders and bringing us the best from the kitchen. Café Arpan, a kitchen where special kids cook and serve guests, won over everyone who walked in. Lemon Tree Hotels, KFC, Aegis (the BPO services) and many more corporate brands to reckon with, are today hiring specially-abled individuals. The backend or operations industry has been working with individuals with varied disabilities, but being inclusive with audiences in the service industry, is slowly gaining momentum. 

A definite impetus also came by when the government sanctioned the Disability Law and reserved a percentage of jobs for the specially-abled. But our battle is not with the ability parameters, it should be how we in the PR universe, can include everyone with special skills. No more should “being different” be a taboo. Instead, working with different individuals should be our best teacher to understand new perspectives and share better stories. 

Probably the right time for us to stop staring at individuals who are not perfect (in regular definitions) and just give them some space to be themselves. Often, we have seen how each member in the team is unique or how all of us have our own set of quirks to live with. Some of us can control that and some cant. So maybe, we need to help everyone around us, more than we ever did. 

In our community, our way of helping should be to know about how differently abled our colleagues are and what can we do to reduce any external stress on them. Maybe they need more time to process information, or need help to make things simpler. Just do what you can to help anyone around you. Help team members to figure out what their strengths are and do your bit. Maybe writing and communicating can be one’s strong pillar, whereas another one will jump with the brightest story ideas. All this seems, just like another day at work, with a simple team. The only thing changed here is the need for acceptance. 

No more, can external help be categorised as assisting an NGO, our daily behaviour now needs to be humanly, a little more inclusive. Just as you would gear up to face an upcoming AI generation, so why not work hard to be inclusive to everyone with special needs. 1 out of 60, is a special child, which means a growing population in the coming years. 

The need of the hour is to educate on how to work closely with specially-abled individuals. Don’t point fingers, don’t stare, don’t add to their inability to express – either help to reduce their internal fight or walk away. Its your choice. With some, the sign language is the best tool, whereas for some reducing the physical contact or managing the external noise. Maybe, we as PR professionals need to work closely with our HR teams and create enough awareness on how we can support and help the specially-abled individuals. That could well be a great starting point. 

Pooja Trehan
Associate Director, Marketing, SugarBox

Bringing up a 7 year-old boy and building a career in Communications have possibly been the key driving forces in my life! Obviously, apart from the 6am runs and eternal love for black coffee. The reality of 2020 hit this industry with the worst storm, but gave me a silver lining through awards & recognition in the 40Under40 category for PR and Corporate communication professionals (three of them in one year!). My goal is to keep - Communications - as the big picture, whilst being the wanderlust traveller who is reading all the time!

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