Chennai-based Laser Soft, which makes financial software, is the brainchild of B. Suresh Kamath, whose business model goes well beyond that of the usual gold-rush profiteer. An engineer by training, he set up his company on a paltry sum of Rs 200. Says Kamath: "Coming from a middle-class background, I knew that while iit and iim graduates are lapped up by top-rung companies, getting a job remains a distant dream for middle-class youth and the handicapped."
It’s a cruel irony of meritocracy that physical disability often affects a person’s chances of employment, no matter how qualified he or she is. Not many companies are too eager to hire handicapped employees. But Laser Soft is refreshingly different. A deaf and mute office attendant, software programmers on wheelchairs, some even handling marketing and meeting clients: it has given jobs to many who’d have otherwise found it difficult to get one. Presently, it employs about 40 handicapped people, most of whom approached Laser Soft after word spread of its open-door policy. Some even came from outside Chennai, seeking employment at its portals.
The company looks after them well. There are special facilities within the office premises such as ramps for those who need to move around in wheelchairs, specially equipped toilets and additional railings. Be it recruitment interviews or general body meetings, all are held on ground floor, for easy access. "The accommodating attitude of the management makes me happy here," says M. Veeramallu, who suffered a spinal injury in an accident and has to support himself with crutches. He works as a programmer and is part of a team customising a banking product. If Kamath is "God" for the handicapped staff, he is a role model for the whole Laser Soft fraternity. "Humanity of this magnitude is hard to find in the corporate world," says an employee, of Kamath.
For a hardworking individual here, the sky is the limit. S.M. Parthasarathy, a senior project manager, despite his physical disability, is often sent abroad to handle prestigious clients. As Kamath says, "Providing them with the right opportunity is important." The company trains them in specific fields, based on their education, talent and aptitude. A deaf and dumb person, if found to have the knack, can be trained in graphic designing. Lower down the rung, some are taken in as attendants. The company provides accommodation in and around office premises, transport and loan facilities.
"The very fact that we are never treated differently because of our physical disability by anyone in Laser Soft makes a difference to us," says Veeramallu. With the entire management carrying the philanthropic baton, employees too never lag behind. An in-house faculty consisting of employees imparts free training in computers to needy and handicapped individuals. About 50 persons have benefited from this initiative. Outstanding students are even absorbed by the company. All this has naturally spread a lot of good vibes. As R. Hemamalini, an employee who is among those taking computer classes, says of the extra work, "It gives me immense personal satisfaction." An understandable emotion.
For details, contact: Laser Soft Infosystems, No. 100-A, Radha Avenue, Srilakshmi Nagar, Valsaravakkam, Chennai-600087. Phone: 24869213.