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Sunday, 25 October 2015

A BPO in Bangalore Shows How to Employ the Differently Abled AND Be Hugely Successful ….

Vindhya E Infomedia, a BPO in Bangalore, is known for it its quality of work. But what’s special about it? The organization was started with the vision of employing differently abled people, and has been doing so, very successfully, since the past 10 years now.
Pavithra Y S, a 21-year-old B.Com graduate was brainstorming ideas about doing something meaningful in her life, with her husband Ashok Giri who is an IT professional. “We just ended up choosing to start a for-profit enterprise that would also offer growth opportunities for the so-called ‘disabled’ people,” she says.
Pavithra uses the term ‘so-called’ because Vindhya E Infomedia, the social enterprise that was born as a result of that brainstorming session, has proved that the disabled are just differently enabled people who are completely capable of being a part of the productive work force.

Vindhya E Infomedia, located in the Rajajinagar Industrial Estate of Bangalore, is now in its 10th year of operations.

The company does Business Process Outsourcing for many industries such as micro finance, banking, insurance, IT and ITES where data is the key to making decisions. Turnaround time (TAT) is critical in choosing vendors, and in that respect, Vindhya is the BPO of choice in the banking and financial services industry.

A service provider to top notch companies like Schneider, SAP and many leading banks, it is known today for its quality.

Voice Process Executives attending calls
“In fact, our company has brought down TATs drastically in this sector. And it is all because our differently-abled employees deliver their best. For them, this is important not just for their career advancement but more because they want the rest of their disabled community to be able to get the job opportunity that they have got. They work as if they are being appraised every moment,” says Pavithra.
So is there an optimum match between the skill sets of the differently abled and the BPO industry’s requirements?
“There are a couple of requirements, but in my opinion the most important one is ‘attitude’. All of them come with a ‘can do’ attitude. ‘Give us any work and we will deliver it’, they say. And they do,” explains Pavithra.

The hearing and speech impaired mostly do data processing. Training for the hearing impaired is conducted through sign language which is also the universal language used at Vindhya E Infomedia.

Training session in progress for Non-Voice Process Executives

Training session in progress for Non-Voice Process Executives –
How Pavithra learnt the sign language makes for an interesting anecdote. In the early days of the company, two hearing impaired girls walked into the office for jobs. At that time, Pavithra did not know that such a thing as a sign language exists. ‘Give me a job and I’ll teach you the sign language,’ one of the girls told her.

Vindhya E Infomedia’s training manual for the 1,200 able and differently enabled employees is written in simple English with clear photos to illustrate processes that the employees need to be trained in. Candidates who apply are expected to have basic English comprehension and computer usage skills. They are then trained to use specific software and communicate in English. While there is a formal training module, informal tools such as reading English language newspapers, and conversing between employees in English also helps.

Although Vindhya was started with the aim of creating a 100 per cent production team of differently abled, it has employed the abled too, in order to bring in other skills sets into the company. This, in fact, has spurred the differently enabled to perform even better because of the healthy competition at workplace. The abled employees, many of them women, work on client sites.
“Our work ethic is hard-core professional. While we nurture the differently abled, no concessions are given for non-performance. Our work force is very disciplined,” says Pavithra.

Recruitment is a multi-pronged process. Initially, they approached NGOs that trained the differently abled. But now they have also set up camps in Tier II cities to create awareness about job opportunities and to recruit from there.

Some of the Vindhya team members celebrating Independence Day 2015

In addition to this, they do campus recruitment as well. Even so, what works best is word-of-mouth because ‘referrals are important in creating trust between employer and employee’, says Pavithra.
Setting up Vindhya E Infomedia was Pavithra’s first work experience and Ashok Giri, her husband, mentored her for the first two years after which he joined the company as CEO and Director. Like any other startup, they operated on a shoe-string budget. Pavithra remembers how, soon after they started, they were to celebrate their daughter’s first birthday. But with the already stretched budget, they could not make any grand plans. When their employees got to know about this, they pooled in and bought a cake, some snacks, and held an impromptu celebration.

Thus the tradition of having a monthly birthday celebration of the employees started.

An informal sign language interaction between some of the employees in the Reception area of Vindhya E Infomedia
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