Diversity, equity, inclusion are all core values at DT Global. In previous posts we have talked about racism, gender equality and, social inclusion. Now it is time to talk about disability.
In August, our office in Madrid celebrated the two year anniversary of working at DT Global for two of our colleagues, Alfonso Esteban and Óscar Iglesias. Óscar and Alfonso both work as administrative assistants and were placed with DT Global through the A LA PAR Foundation, a Spanish nonprofit organization that works with people with intellectual disabilities so they can make a full use of their rights and participate fully in society.
When their two year anniversary was approaching, DT Global’s Corporate Social Responsibility team decided to create a campaign to help celebrate the contributions that Óscar and Alfonso have made, as well as to educate our colleagues about the efforts being made at DT Global to support people with disabilities. First, we wanted to learn more about how Óscar and Alfonso feel about working at DT Global and what their colleagues’ experience has been working with them, and share these stories with Óscar, Alfonso, and the rest of our team in order to celebrate their contributions.
For the second part of the initiative, we organized an virtual panel discussion in partnership with representatives from A LA PAR Foundation and Abese Kakee, an association based in the Ivory Coast that works to ensure that everyone has opportunities to lead a dignified life. The talk gave DT Global’s staff an opportunity to learn about inclusion initiatives for people with intellectual disabilities, not only in Spain but also in developing countries.
Rosana Hernández and Sandra Jaramillo from A LA PAR serve as mentors to Óscar and Alfonso, Rosana and Sandra helped them integrate in the company, helping to define their roles and their workflow, when they first joined DT Global. Now, they work closely with different departments as Óscar and Alfonso’s roles grow and shift, ensuring they feel comfortable and productive, and helping to resolve any concerns or issues that might come up.
In our panel, discussion, Rosana and Sandra stressed the importance of generating inclusive environments. “Disabilities are not in people but in the relationship between people and the environments in which they interact in,” said Rosana at the event. Rosana and Sandra made the case that inclusion of people with disabilities in a workplace is crucial to ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities. Having the chance to work means also being economically independent, which makes a big difference to anyyone’s lives. Also, working in a team makes the rest of the staff learn and understand that people with intellectual disabilities are as capable as any other preson to carry on their responsibilities.
A LA PAR’s name literally means “together, at the same time” and they strongly believe that this is the only way in which society can become fairer and more inclusive. “We can choose the way we approach each other, and our proposal is to do it always looking at the other person as equal to us in dignity and in rights,” said Rosana.
Elisa Martín from Abese Kakee started by explaining her organization’s meaning as well: Abese Kakee means “it can be done” in Malinke, one of the local languages in the Ivory Coast. During the event, Elisa told us how her association has built an inclusive vocational education school in the neighborhood of Anyamá (Abidjan) where all children, with or without disabilities, are welcomed to study. “There [was] only one school that kids with disabilities in Abidjan can attend, and only the most privileged families [could] afford it,” she told us during the event, explaining why it was so important to provide a cost-effective, open school where all would be welcome to come and get an education.
Before founding Abese Kakee, Elisa Martín worked in Anantapur, India with Fundación Vicente Ferrer, where they teach basic exercises to people with disabilities and their families that help them make a difference in their daily routines. Elisa has now exported this idea to Abidjan and will soon start organizing two-day workshops for families that do not live in Anyamá, financing transport and accommodation for them so they are able to attend the training. To help Abese Kakee carry out this fantastic initiative, DT Global is proud to announce that we will be sponsoring one of these workshops.
During this virtual event and over the last two years of getting to work with Óscar and Alfonso, DT Global’s staff has learned that small changes matter, from the way we approach each other to the words we use. But the most important take away was that we must accept everyone with all the qualities that make them distinctive and realize how much value each person can add to society. Only then will we work towards creating a real inclusive society.