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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

Beyond “Diversity”: Employment of Persons with Disabilities as a Sustainable Strategy

Published: May 25, 2021


Arti Srivastava, Indian Institute of Management Udaipur; Jayant Nasa, Indian Institute of Management Udaipur; Prakash Satyavageeswaran, Indian Institute of Management Udaipur; Sundar Bharadwaj, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia


Despite increased opportunities for persons with disabilities (PWDs), their employment remains a challenge. Many firms seem to hire PWDs only under CSR initiatives or as tokens for “diversity.” With such motivations, the employment of PWDs cannot be a sustainable business practice. In this research, we study strategic/marketing implications of employing PWDs in the service sector, thus complementing the services marketing literature that has only looked at PWDs as customers. Using qualitative interviews, we examine how having PWDs as employees impacts customers, other employees, and the organization. We find that employing PWDs has many advantages. Not only are PWDs more focused and sincere than the “normal” employees but they also have much lower attrition rates. Having them, particularly in customer-facing roles, improves customer attitudes and enhances the corporate image. We finally discuss the constraining factors that prevent PWDs’ complete integration into the organization.


The authors are grateful to the EY-ISB Initiative For Emerging Market Studies (IEMS) for providing financial support for this study (the research was awarded a grant from the EY-ISB IEMS for the academic year 2018-2019).