Technology company Microsoft is expanding its APAC Enabler Mentorship Program, an initiative that focuses on improving the employability of people with disabilities (PwDs) in the region.
Launched in 2020, the Microsoft APAC Enabler Mentorship Program will provide PwDs with career coaching, paired with a relevant mentor based on their area of specialization. These mentors will also be their advocates and recommend them for roles for 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 organizations and 14 employer partners two years ago. The premise was simple: collaborate with non-profit organizations (NPO) to train PwDs in the 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 organizations. The program has trained more than 7,000 participants, conducted more than 150 hours worth of Disability Inclusive Hiring workshops, organized consultations with experts for more than 530 PwDs, and enabled roles and internships for more than 350 PwDs.
“Mentors are the key to success for every professional,” said Pratima Amonkar, board chair of Microsoft Diversity & Inclusion and head of APAC Cloud & AI Business Strategy. “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. This program is that 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 marginalized communities.”
Countries joining the Microsoft APAC Enabler 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.
SAP and Infosys have made commitments to the Enabler Program. Since the start of the year, both organizations 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, and Infosys will develop more awareness initiatives and value-add to training, mentoring, and hiring, and create internships for PwDs.