Singapore: In a bid to improve the employability of people with disabilities (PwDs) in Asia Pacific (APAC), Microsoft incubated and launched the APAC Enabler Program in 2020. After two years of the pilot, the company today announced Microsoft APAC Enabler Mentorship Program in nine countries.
These nine countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Phillippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and New Zealand.
PwDs will receive career coaching and a relevant mentor based on their area of specialization, who will coach them, be their advocate and recommend them for roles over a period of 12 months, as well as teach interview skills and help with job matching.
The Microsoft APAC Enabler Program started as a pilot in five markets, with six non-profit organisations and 14 employer partners two years ago. The premise was simple: collaborate with non-profit organisations (NPO) to train PwDs in cloud and technical skills. Then connect these NPOs to businesses hiring talent with cloud skills.
Since then, the Microsoft APAC Enabler program has expanded across the region and now covers nine countries, 13 non-profits, and 27 organisations.
The program has trained over 7,000 participants, conducted more than 150 hours worth of Disability Inclusive Hiring workshops, organised consultations with experts for more than 530 PwDs and enabled roles and internships for more than 350 PwDs.
According to Pratima Amonkar, Board Chair of Microsoft Diversity & Inclusion, and Head of APAC Cloud & AI Business Strategy, mentors are the key to success for every professional and a good mentor is a coach, a guide, as well as a vocal advocate.
“In a pilot program with three NPOs: SG Enable, Tomowork, and Virtualahan, and an educational institution, Temasek Polytechnic, the Microsoft APAC Enabler Mentorship program successfully enabled more than 75 PwDs to receive coaching,” said Amonkar.
She added that this program is a crucial next step to improving diversity in hiring across Asia Pacific. “And I’m so proud to see our incredible partners step up to be the voice of inclusion and commit to inclusive hiring at a time when the pandemic has been hardest on marginalised communities.”
Expansion of the Microsoft APAC Enabler Program.
Microsoft added three countries and two APAC-wide organisations to the program.
The Enabler Program has expanded to three more markets. Difalink (Indonesia), National Disability Commission (Indonesia), Biji Biji (Malaysia), The Rose International Foundation for Children (Nepal), and Ability Development Society of Nepal (ADSoN) are the NPOs from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Nepal joining South Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand in building capabilities, educating, and improving the employability of PwDs.
As the experts and the advocates for PwDs in their respective countries, their knowledge, guidance, and network are crucial to achieving mutual goals of an inclusive workplace, matching the right PwD talent, and structuring activities for inclusion awareness, training, and mentorships.
Regional employer partners SAP and Infosys joining the Microsoft APAC Enabler program
SAP and Infosys have made commendable commitments to the Enabler Program. Since the start of the year, both organisations have hosted sensitization workshops for their employees, and facilitated volunteer opportunities to be mentors.
SAP will be focused on building a wide pool of mentors for the Mentorship Program. Infosys will develop more awareness initiatives and value-add to training, mentoring, and hiring, and create internships for PwDs.
Malinee Narang, Director of HR, SAP Singapore and Head of D&I, SAP Asia Pacific, and Japan, said, “We are happy to embark on the same journey with Microsoft being a part of the Enabler Program to drive awareness and bridge opportunities for people with disabilities.”
Krish Shankar, EVP and Group Head of HR Development, Infosys, said, “At Infosys, we are deeply committed to building and sustaining an inclusive workplace. We also share the vision of accessible workplaces with Microsoft and believe in the potential for good that programs like the APAC Enabler Mentorship create. We are delighted to collaborate on this journey.”