In recent years CSR has become the new business management paradigm and increasingly more companies are including it as part of their strategy. Responsible competitiveness has become a new game rule and it has brought countless patterns, standards and management systems that aim at systematizing CSR both at a practical and at an information level.
There are various CSR definitions. The following two are considered appropriate by the Fundación ONCE.
The European Commission describes Corporate Social Responsibility as the voluntary integration by companies of social and environmental concerns into their commercial operations and their relationships with their partners.
According to the Forum of Experts that met under the Spanish Ministry of Work and Social Affairs, apart from the compliance with existing legal obligations, CSR is the voluntary integration of strategies, procedures and policies of social, labour, environmental and human rights concerns into companies’ government and management as a result of transparent dialogue and relationships with the stakeholders, thus, companies take on responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
Therefore, the main characteristics of CSR are:
Companies’ CSR policies must not forget that people with disabilities amount to at least 10% of the population. Therefore, disability must be part of CSR and people with disabilities must become stakeholders.
For this reason, it is essential that companies take into account the organizations of people with disabilities when carrying out general and periodical consultation processes among the stakeholders.
Moreover, taking people with disabilities into account allows companies to take advantage of the potential and talent of a large part of the population.
Disability is one of the factors that make up the so-called "Diversity", and Diversity is a rising value within companies’ management. Nevertheless, in this framework disability is often pushed into the background in favour of other diversity criteria, therefore disability needs to be specifically considered within CSR.
Also, we have to consider that people with disabilities and their families form a group of potential clients that can be very attractive for many companies. Specific products and services, or those developed considering "design for all" criteria and universal accessibility are also of interest to the elderly population and can be a business opportunity.
On the other hand, a good business practice concerning people with disabilities can make the difference for a company in an increasingly competitive environment, improving its reputation and image.
Finally, disability is becoming more and more regulated. A responsible company must comply with legislation and make the regulated principles its own. Various disability aspects are specifically regulated and more regulations are yet to come. A recent example is the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or the European public procurement legislation, which considers the option of giving priority to providers that hire people with disabilities.
The inclusion of the disability aspect within CSR begins by admitting that people with disabilities form an interesting group from a wide perspective: not only as employees, but also as clients/users, providers, shareholders and investors, and as a group of society to be taken into consideration in the social action area.
A sine qua non for any responsible action on disability matters must be the compliance with regulations. The legal responsibility of companies in disability matters is at a different level from the social responsibility, which is a voluntary and dynamic process that can be adapted to each company and sector’s reality.
The inclusion of the disability aspect in CSR has an influence on the company's policy in general, including commitments, actions and practices that go beyond social action. Disability can be part of several CSR areas such as government, investment policy, transparency, human resources, relationship with clients and providers, etc.
The relevant aspects for people with disabilities are tackled in this guide.
CSR and Disability, from now on “CSR-D” is the general inclusion of the disability aspect in the different elements of companies’ CSR, considering people with disabilities among its stakeholders.