1. 1 Prologues
    1. 1.1 Miguel Carballeda Piñeiro
    2. 1.2 Vladimír Špidla
    3. 1.3 Yannis Vardakastanis
    4. 1.4 Alejo Vidal-Quadras
  2. 2Introduction
  3. 3Equality of treatment and non-discrimination
  4. 4 Integration in the labour market as an element of value
  5. 5 Fostering full accessibility
  6. 6 Relationships with suppliers and subcontractors
  7. 7 Social action
  8. 8 Communication as a responsible tool
  9. 9 How to implement CSR-D
  10. 10 Self-diagnosis questionnaire
  11. 11 CSR-D report patterns and follow-up indicators
  12. 12Relevant European and international legislation
  13. 13Glossary
  • Logotype of European Social Fund
  • Logotype of Fundación ONCE
  • Logotype of Grupo Fundosa

Yannis Vardakastanis A way of realising the enjoyment of rights for persons with disabilities

Let me start by congratulating Fundacion ONCE on the excellent initiative of producing this much needed guide on Corporate Social Responsibility and Disability.

The European Disability Forum has been involved in an array of different EU initiatives in the field of CSR. We share with Fundacion ONCE the belief that CSR has to include persons with disabilities - taking the rights of persons with disabilities into account as a cross-cutting aspect which needs to be integrated at all levels, and in all spheres, of CSR strategies.

This Guide clearly reminds us that employing persons with disabilities and designing products and services in an accessible way in order to benefit from persons with disabilities as consumers are not to be considered as social or charitable actions. No, including disability in CSR policies makes good business sense. It will generate added value for the companies who take disability into account in a systematic way based on the belief that persons with disabilities are citizens, workers and consumers on equal terms with everybody else.

This becomes even more evident when we reflect on the existing European legislation that outlaws discrimination on the basis of disability in the field of employment and makes the use of Design for All criteria a key element in the specifications of public tenders. More legislation, which obliges companies to consider the rights of persons with disabilities, will follow, on both European and national level.

With this in mind, it makes even more business sense for companies to ensure that the criteria related to disability in the public procurement legislation are being applied in a pro-active manner ready for future requirements. Also, European non-discrimination legislation covering, among other grounds, disability is foreseen to be adopted. This piece of legislation is also going to cover obligations of private companies in relation to ensuring access for persons with disabilities to products and services.

On this background, CSR initiatives should be seen as a way of realising the enjoyment of rights for persons with disabilities and a guiding principle which will ensure that business practices will be in accordance with future legislation, public demands and societal expectations.

To continue on this note, the sustainability of the practices of companies’ is becoming more and more relevant in the light of general trends regarding increased awareness about environmental protection and fair trade with developing countries.

This guide rightly reminds us that accessibility for persons with disabilities has to be considered as a key element of economic and environmental sustainability. Infrastructure and buildings established today by European companies will be in use for decades, so it is paramount to ensure that they will not only live up to legislation and expectations of today, but also to future European societies with more persons with disabilities and elderly people.

It is essential that companies, when committing themselves to become disability-friendly, do so from a rights-based approach. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force in May 2008, provides the legislative, but also the conceptual, moral and political framework for the entire society, including the private sector.

The guide on CSR-D underlines that the issue is not only relevant for large companies, but that all companies, regardless of size, can make its contribution to the social inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The current economic crisis means additional challenges for persons with disabilities, which in turn means that public authorities as well as private companies should pay special attention to ensure that persons with disabilities do not fall victim to the crisis. If adequate measures are put in place, persons with disabilities can play their full role as employees. And this is exactly where private companies and public authorities should work together in partnership in order to create an inclusive labour market for persons with disabilities.

I would also like to use this opportunity to insist on our previous demands to the European Commission and other EU institutions to ensure that persons with disabilities play a prominent role in all EU initiatives in the area of CSR. While we perfectly understand that CSR is very much based on self commitment by companies, there is an important promoting role to be played by public authorities which should never be underestimated.

I am currently discussing with my colleagues in Fundacion ONCE how we can build on the remarkable and long-lasting experience of Fundacion ONCE in Spain in order to promote exchange of good practice on CSR and disability at European level. I am convinced that such an initiative, for which we will seek the active cooperation of the relevant stakeholders, will be of great interest for employers, persons with disabilities and public authorities alike.

Yannis Vardakastanis President of EDF