Good practices

Not everyone likes the term CSR+D, but the phenomenon of the exclusion of persons with disabilities from employment on the open labour market needs to be named somehow. Consequently, here is a term which highlights the fact that even in community engagement activities undertaken by business, commonly known as CSR, the disability component is missing. Given the above, we find it even more worthwhile to present those who have been successful in this area in order to inspire and be food for thought for others, in particular CSR managers and adult education trainers.

Cooperative Brewery, Puck, Poland

Agnieszka Dejna and Janusz Golisowicz, founders of Cooperative Brewery

Agnieszka Dejna and Janusz Golisowicz, founders of Cooperative Brewery

Why did we start doing it?

Janusz and Agnieszka are the creators of the Puck-based Cooperative Brewery which employs persons with intellectual disability and mental-health difficulties. For 15 years, Janusz had been involved in occupational therapy workshops for persons with intellectual disability, which for him was an inspiration and encouragement to be active. For her part, Agnieszka was active in the third sector for years, experienced in organising socially-minded work.

They both also managed their own enterprises, so were no strangers to business. They contributed a lot of their own money to the brewery, yet from the very start never doubted the project would be successful. The local authorities of Puck and Krokowa communities also made their contribution, as did the members of the cooperative and so it all began.

“One can do various things but it is best to do what you love,” says Agnieszka. She just must sense that her work has value, not necessarily in terms of money..

At work. Employee manually sticks a label on a ready bottle of beer.

At work. Employee manually sticks a label on a ready bottle of beer.

How do we do it?

90 per cent of the brewery’s staff have intellectual disability and its strength is a quality product: good local beer keenly bought by business clients. They identify with the product and want to buy it, considering it to be part of a good cause. It is Poland’s first brewery of the kind, and the world’s sixth, its distinguishing feature. It has recently reached its full manufacturing capacity, eight thousand litres of beer per month. The production equipment is adapted to company staff with disabilities. Bottling and capping are done manually, as are labelling and packaging. As the work is repetitive, it is easily learnt by persons with intellectual disability.
The product brand growing in popularity, it already ensures a stable wage level for the employees.

Employees  pack beer to crates with company logo and slogan

Employees pack beer to crates with company logo and slogan “A beer which means more”

What is it now?

Some staff members hail from the occupational therapy workshops, and it came naturally as Janusz was in charge of recruitment. Currently, they also employ persons from elsewhere, and the business is growing. One of their projects is a company pub in Gdańsk which employs mainly persons with mental-health difficulties.
The brewery is a rigorous employer. Nearly 20 members of staff have already worked there, some had to be dismissed as for various reasons they failed to meet the requirements. It is not a charity initiative but a fully organised company with standards in place to be adhered to at work. Janusz and Agnieszka intend to continue to expand the business. Their goal is to penetrate various Polish cities and offer franchise opportunities to other businesses, as well as promote the brand more widely. They say that only ambitious goals are of interest to them.
They are also guided, however, by the notion of caring about their personnel and the required results of their work. They take care of them, one example is supporting them in paying back the unwillingly drawn bank loans. Work and daily life go hand in hand. Thanks to the capital earned, they were able to take their staff on a cruise on the Baltic Sea and diving is in the pipeline, too. However, money must be first earned to be spent later: the beneficiaries must, and do, understand it. Clients, in turn, recognise the brand more and accept the higher price of their beer in the knowledge that they support a good cause.

We consider the activity of the Cooperative Brewery to be a practical implementation of the notion of CSR+D. More about them: www.browarspoldzielczy.com

See also the co-creator of the Brewery during the Come CloSeR Show 2016 and what she says about the notion of managers of the future: Agnieszka Dejna: Who is a manager of the future?

Agnieszka Dejna puors a beer.

Agnieszka Dejna pours a beer.

CREATIV COMPANY, Holstebro, Denmark

Peter Norgaard is one of the founders and owners of Creativ Company.

Peter Norgaard is one of the founders and owners of Creativ Company.

Why did we start doing it?

Holstebro-based Creativ Company is a vendor of a wide variety of arts and crafts solutions, including decorative and those used for learning purposes. The goods are sold to supermarkets across Europe, other shops and educational institutions.

Peter Norgaard, the creator and owner of Creativ Company, was once sitting with his business partner in a summer cottage thinking about setting up a company. They had a long discussion but as a result they set some objectives which still apply today. For example, they decided to run a perfectly normal business, yet taking into consideration social and generational diversity, and 15% of its staff persons with various disabilities who, however, must be willing to work well and have relevant competences.

Creativ Company is a vendor of a wide variety of arts and crafts solutions.

Creativ Company is a vendor of a wide variety of arts and crafts solutions.

How do we do it?

Each of the persons working at Creativ Company has a story to tell, sometimes a difficult one, but all are motivated to work and help others. “We are a reflection of society with all its vices and virtues, its whole diversity. We want to be exactly like the world around us. We want to do a good job, earn money and share the experience of how to do it with other companies,” says Peter. “We employ people from weaker and excluded groups and this is our heartfelt but also realistic objective. After all, if a company employs only people with top qualifications, they will always look for a better job. We, in turn, draw on social groups perceived as less efficient employees. For many years, we have had the same staff working very well, now at higher posts, but they were starting at zero. As for their efficiency, it normally improves year on year. It is a fantastic feeling to look at all this from a distance and see that it works.” Importantly, the inclusion policy pursued by the Holstebro-based enterprise also means recruiting persons with excellent professional, educational or personal skills as such diversity stimulates supporting one another and strengthening the business as a whole. In summary, regardless of one’s background or condition, what really matters is whether a given person is well suited for the position offered by the employer.
Setting right business objectives, adhering to them and being successful on the market is what Creativ Company shares with other enterprises. Using such experiences well makes it possible for them to expand the circle of companies that are community engaged, which runs in Creativ Company’s DNA.

Staff members at Creativ Company are a reflection of society with all its vices and virtues, its whole diversity.

Staff members at Creativ Company are a reflection of society with all its vices and virtues, its whole diversity.

What is it now?

Creativ Company has been operating for 16 years now, employs 180 staff members and has a dedicated unit where persons who have been away from the labour market for some time due to physical, mental or social challenges can acquire skills helping them become employable. The unit has also staff with disabilities across functions, also managerial. It is important because competences are key in the company. The type or degree of one’s disability matter much less than the quality of one’s work and performing one’s duties well. If employee evaluation is positive, the road for the person in question is open to advance and become a manager one day.
Peter Norgaard has not only made the dream he had years back in the summer cottage reality, but also developed a social enterprise which has earned prestige on the Danish market. His employees are proud to work there and frequently stress that the company has changed their lives.

High technology trucks are operation at the warehouse of 7.500 squaremetres.

High technology trucks are operation at the warehouse of 7.500 squaremetres.

More than 12.000 items are stored in the warehouse.

More than 12.000 items are stored in the warehouse.

We consider the activity of Creativ Company to be a practical implementation of the notion of CSR+D. More about them is available at:
www.cchobby.dk

Each of the persons working at Creativ Company all are motivated to work and help others.

Each of the persons working at Creativ Company all are motivated to work and help others.

Ctalents, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Sandra Ballij, social entrepreneur at Ctalents, CtheCity and Ctaste

Sandra Ballij, social entrepreneur at Ctalents, CtheCity and Ctaste

Why did we start doing it?

Many of our blind and partially sighted employees used to sit at home doing nothing, getting addicted to the environment which did things for them even as regards basic activities. We wanted to change it, however small the scale, and so we trained them at our restaurant where we serve meals in darkness. It turned out that many of them where perfectly suited for work. At Ctalents, however, we do nothing for our candidates but show them how they can do something themselves, i.e. we give them the proverbial fishing rod but not the fish. It is hard to say here that they are poor because they cannot see and someone must do things for them. We tell them then that they should learn to convince their prospective employers that they can enrich the team by themselves and their work and what they can offer rather than what the employer can offer them. Important is also the fact that our candidates take training seriously, simply no-one makes any concessions. They are told: “This is your client and work with them so that the enterprise can make a profit, and you have work.” So we treat them just like the other employees, which is beneficial to  both sides.

Noortje Reus, blind graduated Ctalents trainee and now working at Ctaste - Dining in the Dark

Noortje Reus, blind graduated Ctalents trainee and now working at Ctaste
- Dining in the Dark

How do we do it?

We prepare candidates for other employees. Such preparation can take from a week to even several months. The candidates fill in the form, take part in a traineeship programme, receive a coach who monitors the course, and then get a certificate. If all goes well, we offer them employment at our company or companies of our partners. This may be cleaning because someone has just such skills but also marketing or a managerial post. It all depends on one’s individual abilities, will to learn and the results of the process.

On the other hand, we improve the awareness of employers who are still completely unprepared to employ persons who are blind, partially sighted or disabled otherwise – as we also come across those who are deaf and hard of hearing. Such employers often tell us: “It is great what you do here but it would not work at my company”. We want to convince them that things can be completely different and it can work because it is all about recognising the employee’s specific needs, matching them with the employer’s needs, training and workplace adaptation. Nothing to be rejected after a moment’s reflection.

And so it does happen that it is at our place that such an employer sees for the first time that a blind or partially sighted person works with a PC and suddenly his/her eyes are open and he/she suddenly sees that such a person can work at their company, while before they were sure that blind persons only could not read or write and could just listen. And so such a meeting between the employer and a candidate improves disability awareness, becomes an opportunity to think which workplace would be the best to adapt, and obliterates previous stereotypes.

Michel Kottelaar, deaf graduated Ctalents trainee and now working at ABN Amro.

Michel Kottelaar, deaf graduated Ctalents trainee and now working at ABN
Amro.

What is it now?

Last year, we made more than 40 persons fit for work and our goal is to triple the figure next year. 90% of our candidates and trainees become employed or advance at work, which we are very proud of. As we do not receive any state aid, the entire risk related to employee preparation is ours but we are sure that if we prepare someone well, they will find and retain a job. We are also increasingly often approached by employees who say that they have already had some positive experience with an employee we prepared and would be keen to employ another person. This motivates us to continue with our work and increase the number of people who are interested in training and traineeship programmes. For now, we operate in Amsterdam and its environs, one day we might expand and cover the entire country and so our long-tem goal is to reduce the unemployment rate among blind and partially sighted persons which continues to be high in the Netherlands, reaching even 70%.

We consider the activity of the Ctalents to be a practical implementation of the notion of CSR+D. More about them is available at: www.ctalents.nl.

GFD – Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic, Amadora, Portugal

Ernesto Ferreira is the founder and owner of the Physiotherapy Sports Clinic - GFD

Ernesto Ferreira is the founder and owner of the Physiotherapy Sports Clinic – GFD

Why did we start doing it?

GFD – Gabinete de Fisioterapia no Desporto is a Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic in Amadora close to Lisbon, serving the sports community and the general public for 20 years now. Around eight years ago, Ernesto Ferreira, a physiotherapist and GFB founder and owner, had a friend whose twenty-year-old brother Nuno Amade was blind. Nuno had obtained a diploma of a massage therapy/auxiliary of physiotherapy at the APEDV – Association for the Promotion of Employment for Visually Disabled People. The APEDV is a certified vocational training centre and offers courses for massage therapists/auxiliaries of physiotherapy, telephone operators and artisanal craftsmen. The GFD clinic needed a massage therapist and Ernesto decided to invite Nuno for a professional internship. Nuno proved to be an excellent professional, handling the job perfectly and getting along very well with the team. And that was why he was offered a full-time employment at the Clinic, where he still works today.

Nuno and Hilário at GFD / Nuno working with the equipment

Nuno and Hilário at GFD / Nuno working with the equipment

How do we do it?

Some five years ago, the GFD opened a second clinic in Algés, also nearby Lisbon. Another massage therapist was needed, so Ernesto was looking for one from the APEDV, the association where Nuno had obtained his professional diploma. And that was how Maria José, a blind woman in her forties, was offered a professional internship in the new clinic. Having demonstrated to be very skilled in the profession and perfectly adapted to the needs of the clinic, she also signed a full-time contract with the GFD. In both cases, there was no need for changes in the workplace, either physical or social/personal. Nuno and Maria José became part of the team naturally.

In 2012, the GFD was distinguished with a prize for “good practices in the field of employment” granted each year by the Municipality of Leiria together with the Technical Institute of Leiria at a ceremony dedicated to inclusion. Maybe that was what led the Portuguese television TVI to make contact with the GFD asking if there was a place there for Hilário, a 45-year-old father of three who had lost sight recently and could not find a decent job to support his family. Since the work at the clinic continues growing, Hilário, also a former student of APEDV, started a professional internship, which is almost ending now. Ernesto is very satisfied with his work and will be offering him a full-time job.

A happy team - 3 out of its 11 members are blind

A happy team – 3 out of its 11 members are blind

What is it now?

Altogether, the GFD clinic has a team of around ten therapists, and the only three who are massage therapists are blind. They have proved to be qualified for the job and have excelled in their performance, which is why they are employed. Besides the therapeutical massages, they perform all the tasks needed to prepare the treatments, including handling equipment like diathermy machines and lasers. They work well integrated in the team and the team is happy to have them. There is a sense of pride to be part of a socially responsible company. And, last but not least, the patients are pleased with the treatment they provide.

With the second clinic, which, expanding, has recently moved from Algés to Belém, a new massage therapist might soon be needed. There is a high probability that Ernesto will look for someone with a diploma from the APEDV, since they have proved to provide good vocational training. No one will get a job just because they are blind, but because they prove to be very good at what they do. And only good professionals hold on to their jobs. Hilário says: “I wish there were more people like Ernesto, who gives us the opportunity to show how good we are”.

We consider the activity of the GFD – Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic to be a practical implementation of the notion of CSR+D. More about them is available at: www.gfd.pt.