Inclusion of People with Disabilities at Gul Ahmed
Pakistan has almost one million differently-abled individuals. With the country’s unemployment rate surging to nearly 6 percent, the chances of persons with disabilities obtaining employment are grim.
(Mohammed Amin (right) and Mohammed Yasir (left) make 3000 cardboard boxes a day
People like Mohammed Amin with a Down Syndrome seldom get employment opportunities. “I am so grateful to be able to make a little contribution to such a big business,” says Amin, as he ardently makes cardboard boxes with a big grin on his face. “As a helper, he makes about 3,000 boxes a day and has full attendance” according to the Floor Manager. Amin’s loyalty and dedication is evident as he has been working diligently for Gul Ahmed for the past nine years. He moves and speaks quite slowly but his hands move so fast, as he is able to make a complete box within 30 seconds. “I used to feel very lonely sitting at home all the time but now I interact with nearly 50 people on the factory floor,” says Amin.
His colleague Mohammed Yasir, who suffers from a similar physical condition, has been working for the company efficiently too, for the same amount of time. For both, being an earning hand raises their self-esteem by manifold and adds meaning to life.
Amid the wave of commercialism and capitalism, it is enlightening to find companies advocating for meaningful causes. Their benevolence and a deep regard for humanity leaves a positive impact on the company’s image as well as enriches its organizational culture and values.
To become more inclusive and diverse, Gul Ahmed has been working with local CBOs and NGOs, thus embarking on a committed journey to employ, train and retain their diverse talent. They have established many training centers to help excluded groups — such as women, low-skilled youth, an persons with disabilities — to develop and enhance their professional abilities and technical skills.
Transportation is also provided to those employees who are unable to use public transportation. The differently-abled workforce at Gul Ahmed include those with significant hearing and speech impairments, persons with Down syndrome, and those that are physically handicapped. There are no biases against them and efforts are made to help them adapt to the working environment.
Ghulam Mustafa, for instance, lost his leg in an accident. After being rejected from three companies, he was finally able to get a job at Gul Ahmed. Initially, he was employed as a machine operator, but considering his inability to stand for long hours, the company offered him a desk job. Currently, he prepares daily production reports, dispatches batch tickets and assists the finance department in numerous ways.
“My depression has improved ever since I started this job. I don’t feel so helpless after being able to earn for my family, yet again,” says Mustafa. Out of nearly 14,000 employees, some 300 employees at Gul Ahmed are disabled. As per its well-defined CSR (corporate social responsibility) policy, Gul Ahmed has reserved a two percent employment quota for differently-abled workers who are still an underrepresented in the industry, across Pakistan. The aim is to provide them an equal opportunity to thrive and prosper in their own communities.