Microsoft incubated and launched the APAC Enabler Program in 2020, a global first for the company that focused on improving the employability of people with disabilities (PwDs) in Asia Pacific (APAC).
Microsoft now announced an expansion of this strategy, with the launch of the APAC Enabler Mentorship program. PwDs will receive career guidance from a relevant mentor who will coach them, be their advocate and recommend them for roles over a period of 12 months. The mentors will also teach interview skills and help with job matching.
The Microsoft APAC Enabler Program started as a pilot in five markets, with six nonprofit organizations and 14 employer partners two years ago. The premise was simple: collaborate with nonprofit organizations (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 nonprofits 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.
Pratima Amonkar, Board Chair of Microsoft Diversity & Inclusion, and Head of APAC Cloud & AI Business Strategy said: “Mentors are the key to success for every professional. 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 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 include NPOs from 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 are the NPOs from Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal. They will join NPOs from 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 our mutual goal of an inclusive workplace. They will play a key role in matching the right PwD talent with the right employers, while also setting up 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 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 program, and Infosys will develop more awareness initiatives and value-add to training, mentoring and hiring. They will also create internships for PwDs.
Malinee Narang, Director, Human Resources, 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. At SAP, we believe in driving technology that improves people’s lives, and in this vein means building a culture and environment where every individual’s unique ability to contribute is acknowledged and valued.”
Krish Shankar, Executive Vice President and Group Head of Human Resource Development, Infosys, said: “When we think of an inclusive ecosystem, workplace accessibility should be at its heart. 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.”