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Microsoft leads charge to inspire employment diversity in Sri Lanka

The Microsoft Enabler Program is proving that with strong support and equal access to employment, Persons with Disabilities can contribute fully to economy and society. The program aims to pioneer disability-inclusive workplaces across the region by removing barriers for a more diverse workforce. It was piloted in Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand before it expanded to Sri Lanka in 2020.

ZILLIONe Technologies and Creative Software were the opening employer partners in Sri Lanka while Enable Lanka Foundation was the preliminary non-profit organization (NPO). The trio will continue to work in collaboration with Microsoft to provide inclusive opportunities and digital skills to more Persons with Disabilities across the nation.

“At ZILLIONe Technologies, we are doing our part to provide inclusive opportunity to Persons with Disabilities by helping them find meaningful employment,” said Sujan Suresh, Director, ZILLIONe Technologies. “We are excited to be a part of the Microsoft Enabler Program as this will allow us to create a steady pipeline for our talents with disability and future-proof our community.”

“Sri Lanka even after ratifying the UNCRPD in 2016 still has the challenge of integrating the marginalized communities, especially Persons with Disabilities—socially, economically, culturally and attitudinally—into the rapidly expanding spectrum of development opportunities,” said Krystle Reid Wijesuriya, Co-founder of Enable Lanka Foundation, Sri Lanka. “There is a dire need for capacity building, community-based empowerment, and skill development in gearing the poor and the marginalized towards the aforementioned momentum of progress. Through the Microsoft Enabler program, we are trying to create greater awareness around disability inclusion and make companies/our partners embrace true diversity and inclusion and make Persons with Disabilities not only economically independent, but also learn to take control of their own lives and to become real change agents.”

Enable Lanka Foundation is also helping a pool of potential candidates for vacancies within the two commercial partner companies. The NPO is helping the commercial partner learn about working with Persons with Disabilities and offering inputs on workplace modifications they may need to be an accessible employer.

“Workplace inclusion is more than a token phrase at Creative. Our focus is purely on the skills and abilities that a person can bring to the workforce,” said Sushena Ranatunga, Director, Creative Software. “We look forward to our continued partnership with Microsoft and this much needed initiative with Enable Lanka Foundation.”

Microsoft will provide industry-required training for Persons with Disabilities and a platform for NPOs and commercial partners to collaborate in creating more inclusive workplaces. It will also conduct workshops for the employer partners on inclusive design and assistive technologies enabled by AI on Microsoft Azure.

“The Microsoft Enabler Program aims to increase employability prospects and skills of Persons with Disabilities living in Sri Lanka,” said Harsha Randeny, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives. “Access to digital skills and employment opportunities must be given to every community and individual as we look to rebuild our economies. Many Persons with Disabilities need assistive technology but only a few of them have access, and this means many of them cannot fully participate in our economy and society. At Microsoft, we believe accessible technology and skilling can allow them to fully participate.”

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