On Sunday, December the 3rd, we celebrated the International Day of Disabled Persons, and I want to share with you my feelings and thoughts, which probably many of you share.

In order to successfully face a diverse, changing, volatile and unpredictable future like the one we are experiencing, it is essential to have a diverse workforce that, based on its differences in knowledge, values, skills, orientation and capabilities, will enable us to succeed in this new environment.

When we talk about functional diversity, I want to make it clear that I am not talking about solidarity but about the importance of working with responsibility. Last week we spoke, in this blog, about the importance of addressing gender violence and about the active role that companies should take in this fight. And today I want to bring up another issue in which, from human resources, we must work on breaking fears. Fear of the unknown, that when we do not stop to explore and overcome it becomes prejudice.

Today we talk about inclusion because what complicates the life of people with disabilities is not their physical or psychic limitation, but how we think and behave. In its report of 2017, made to give visibility this December the 3rd to the International Day of Disabled Persons, the Observatory on Disability and Labor Market in Spain, ODISMET  (for its acronym in Spanish), showed relevant facts. Only one in five people with disabilities is currently working, and seven out of ten salaried workers work in non-inclusive work environments. This reality has to change, and we can help to make this situation better.

Being aware of the value that these people have and the great contribution they provide to the organisation is something that we have been doing in Vodafone for a long time. In our Diversity Plan, one of the four main pillars is functional diversity. Our goal is to carry out a detailed analysis of the employees belonging to this group in order to favour their inclusion, ensure equal opportunities, and give them the necessary support so that they can contribute without difficulty, with motivation and enthusiasm.

We have implemented different programs of which I am very proud, as the Prodis Scholarships, where employees with intellectual disabilities are incorporated in the different departments to have a first professional contact. Thanks to this program and breaking the fears that I commented previously, in the last quarter we have incorporated, with a permanent contract, four people who had made the Scholarship in different departments of the company.

Within human resources, for example, for a long time, we have had the presence of Andrés, a boy with an intellectual disability who works in administrative tasks and who constantly gives us feedback on the different programs we have.

For these actions to persist over time, it is necessary to have clear objectives and indicators that measure compliance with the goals we have set for ourselves. In this way, all these actions are not isolated situations, but as new challenges to be solved. Because if we want an inclusive and diverse work world, we have to be the first change ambassadors to take the first steps that mark the way forward.

Yes, we are different, and that enriches us. It makes us more competitive, more vibrant and gives us more opportunities to learn.