The last frontier: PwD – an Untapped Source of Manpower for Retail

01STOrai profiles the recently released Accenture / TRRAIN report “Breaking new ground: Empowering persons with disability to work in Indian Retail”.

PwD constitute a population of 70 million, of which less than 1% is gainfully employed. The report, which is aimed at sensitizing both retail organizations and the government to the benefits of employing PwD, demonstrates how PwD employment is socially relevant and makes sound business sense due to lower attrition and better productivity.

Indian retail is slated to grow from its current market size of 500 billion USD to over 1.3 trillion USD by 2020. Today, it is India’s second-largest employer, employing 33 million people. However, the sector has been subject to high attrition, low productivity and lack of employee engagement.

Manpower costs add up to more than seven percent of total costs in retail. At the same time, high levels of attrition in the industry negate the investments made in recruiting and training employees. Industry growth means that the need for a skilled workforce continues to grow unabated.

Retail – a wealth of employment opportunities for PwD
Besides being one of the country’s largest employers, the retail industry offers specific benefits that make it accessible and attractive to PwD employees. For example, the industry provides opportunities for personal and professional growth in customer facing roles. Additionally, modern retail environments like malls have accessible infrastructure that are PwD-friendly.

Social benefits of PwD employment
02According to the report, there are a number of diverse advantages to employing PwD in an organization. These not only benefit the employer in terms of enhanced sensitivity and brand image, but also have a positive impact on society as a whole. In addition, hiring of PwD has a positive effect on their lives. It not only makes them financially independent by providing them with employment opportunities and increases their interaction with society, but also helps sensitize society to their capabilities.

Business benefits of PwD employment
PwD employment has a proven track-record of lower attrition rates and higher productivity levels.

03Additionally, employers of PwD stand to gain from a stronger brand image, caused by improved customer perception, and can take advantage of several Government incentives instituted for employers of PwD.  Key insights:

  • Over 70% of the respondents recorded that hiring PwD reduced attrition rates. Average attrition rates of PwD are 3.3% compared to the industry figure of 6.8%.
  • Over 60% of respondents felt that PwD were more productive than non-disabled employees. Our research also reveals that, over time, PwD will become a source of inspiration to other employees and help drive overall engagement levels.
  • Two-thirds of retailers surveyed believed that PwD employment drives positive word-of-mouth about the organization amongst customers, driving customer retention.

Guide for retailers for PwD inclusion in the workforce
The report suggests that organizations undertake a detailed exercise to identify roles and map each role to the ability of an individual.

  • Sourcing: The survey results showed that NGOs are a primary recruiting source of PwD for organizations. It was also seen that since PwD tend to be well-networked, referrals and walk-ins are significant contributors in organizations that have been recruiting PwD for some time.
  • Training: The training practices for PwD are not significantly different from non-disabled employees. It only needs to be ensured that training content and delivery are attuned to the specific requirements of PwD.
  • Recruitment & Retention: To ensure retention of PwD, industry needs to create an inclusive workplace wherein PwD who are qualified for a job enjoy equal opportunities and are equitably represented. This requires measures which focus on creating equitable policies, sufficient workplace accommodation and employee sensitization.

Companies like Hypercity, Croma, Café Coffee Day and Gitanjali jewellers, Max Fashion have implemented PWD initiatives and are trailblazers in this regard.

In addition, Lifestyle International has a long standing PwD program called “Swabhimaan” which earned it additional credit over peers, and led to the company being adjudged “the best Indian Retailer to work for”.


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Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers. RAI is a not for profit organization (registered under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956), works with all the stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of the modern retail industry in India. RAI is the body that encourages, develops, facilitates and supports retailers to become modern and adopt best practices that will delight customers. RAI has a three charter aim of Retail Development, Facilitation and Propagation.