Though there are no legislative compulsion to employ such special people, We had an inner urge to reach out to this group. We were Stimulated by a sense of strong personal responsibility and not any external man dare to provide then an honorable access to the mainstream society".
Even before there was CSR there was the instinct to do the right thing. "At DIL I don't remember starting our practice of inclusive Employment from the standpoint of making a CSR statement even what looks like a CSR Strategy success today began unobsessively as an idea to draw in people who may be differently abled but fit in perfectly some areas of our operations, such as restaurant services. The activity was an initiative to provide an opportunity for people with speech and hearing impairments.
"One of the most gratifying outcomes of this initiative has been the on-par performance and attitude of our specially-abled employees".
"We started this initiative at the Greater Kailash outlet of Costa Coffee New Delhi about three years ago. It was backed by a wall Thought-cut strategy whereby a six-month action plan was developed. We identified specially-abled candidates after carefully scouting and a long training scheduled was developed and cascaded to help them serve customers. Subsequently, this initiative was extended to KFC New Empire Kolkata and it has been an outstanding success since then. Initially, we faced the challenge in finding the people with the right attitude and education learning. We sought support from NGOs operating in this space at Kolkata and NCR for this purpose and soon everything fell in place".
The challenge has been not only to make them feel comfortable in the work environment, but also to extend the same HR policies to them like others. These special people receive the same compensation and career growth opportunities as anybody else in a similar role in the organization. We do take extra measures to support them in acquiring necessary skills to perform better in their Existing roles and developing them for roles that they would take up in the future. Keeping in mind their special needs, training programmer have been suitably customized without Compromising the brand and service standards. we have also trained our managers in sign language so that communication flows smoothly among the team members.
Their commitment level, loyalty towards the organization's mission and values have been exemplary. The customer response to the quality of service of such employees has been positive and some of the feedbacks have been really very motivating. DIL employs about 400 specially-abled people across different geographical locations from Kolkata to Mumbai to the National Capital Region.
The company's vision and its approach to the question of mandates is best summed in the words of Ravi Jaipuria Chairman of RJ Corp. All business ventures are necessarily driven by intense desire to create wealth. However, no business venture can sustain in the long term if it does not meet expectations of a large number of people many of whom are challenged by disabilities of varied kind. While we do not have any philosophical disagreement with any proposal to mandate business houses to discharge its social responsibilities and commitments, we believe that legislative mandates may only create legal hassles rather than giving a fillip to such endeavors.
In 2009 the government of west Bengal recognized DIL's initiative by conferring the "Best Employer Award" But our initiative is not driven by any intention to enhance brand Positioning and image. We firmly believe in our policy to underplay this initiative as corporate social responsibility for this simple reason that we are not doing anyone a favor. These are good employees and they perform as well as the others, They are as much part of our HR policy decisions as the others. And this is the best tribute one can give them.
Winds of Change Towards Inclusive Employment of persons with Disability:
Costa Coffee, which is an integral part of DIL was a part of the Leonard Cheshire Disability Trust (CDT) - Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Corporate Sensitisation Workshop- "Winds of Change- Towards Inclusive Employment of persons with Disability" on 28th March 2012, laying emphasis on the path of inclusion of persons with disability in our personnel and improvising the diverse facets of opportunities & betterment that can be brought into play for persons with disability.
Costa Coffee showcased the initiatives taken for developing and making it a great place to work for persons with disability. Special Training sessions on "Sign language" are conducted to aid us to comprehend and communicate confidently with our special staff .
TOI Article on 22ND MAY2010:
A deaf waiter, a blind PR exec... from eateries to offices, the private sector is employing the differently abled Joeanna Rebello Fernandes | TNN Ever heard of an eatery where graciousness and a zen equanimity meet the occasional error of an order fudged? Where the customer won't pop a nerve if the waiter brings him a latte grande instead of a latte venti? Believe it when we say such places exist, where caffeine-deficient customers become docile Dominicans in the face of any slip-up. At Costa Coffee, no aneurysms occur when the mustard is missed. One tends to remember the catechism of kindness when being served by a person with hearing impairment.
This coffee chain, along with its kindred franchises, parented by Devyani International Ltd, makes it a point to hire people with hearing impairment where it can at its coffee shops and fast food facsimiles. Every Costa point in Mumbai has at least one such attendant.
But the good work is really happening in Kolkata, where KFC and Pizza Hut, the other brands hinged to the master franchisee, are almost totally manned by special staff. KFC alone has 40 hearing-impaired youth. "It's not an intractable company policy we follow, only an intrinsic desire to offer employment to this group,'' says Dr V P Singh, executive director, HR. At his outlets, it is the regular staff that is trained to fit in with the rest—managers attend a month-long workshop in Indian Sign Language. But in the commercial thoroughfare of a coffee shop, the staff is bound to get snagged in communication cross-wires. "Customers make things easy by pointing out items on the menu, or coming to the counter to speak to the other staff, or indicating via text on their cellphone,'' says Faroukh Rajwani, store manager at Costa, Phoenix Mills.
Singh claims he would side with his staff even if his customers were discomfited by the unorthodoxy of service. Luckily for him, numbers career towards delight, not discomfort.