According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, around one billion people – 15% of the world’s population – have some type of disability worldwide. According to the European Commission, “about 80 million people living in the EU have a mild to severe disability. The physical obstacles they face, such as gaining access to a school or work place, leave them vulnerable to social exclusion. Lower employment and education levels mean the poverty rate for those with disabilities is 70% higher than the average.” According to these sources, due to the ageing of the population, the percentage of people with disabilities around the world will probable continue to increase in the coming years.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) offer new opportunities for all players in society, but even more so for people with disabilities, since the use of such technology allows them to carry out daily tasks and activities independently. By having suitable and accessible equipment, people with special needs find a truly revolutionary tool in ICTs. It is the key that allows them to improve their quality of life, have access to education, work, leisure, or social and political life. Through the supply of products and services that are tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, Telefónica aims to promote their inclusion as citizens, employees, customers or suppliers worldwide.
For this purpose, Telefónica carries out many initiatives for this group from the point of view of social innovation, such as rewarding organizations for managing diversity in a sustainable way through “Ability Awards” or by facilitating the deployment of new home health care services through mobility and telecare services being developed by Telefónica’s “e-health”.
One of these initiatives is the inclusion of disability in CSR disclosure and in socially responsible investment through the development of indicators. In the framework of the European Network for CSR and Disability (CSR+D), Telefónica and Fundación ONCE have developed a set of disability indicators in relation to aspects such as employment inclusion, product and services development, customer relations, supply chain, social action, or communication and stakeholders dialogue.
The objective of this initiative is two-fold. On one hand, to promote the inclusion of disability in CSR reports and socially responsible investment by adopting this type of indicators and, on the other, influence those institutions that draft reporting guidelines. Given the general and specific objectives mentioned above, Telefónica will include this set of indicators in its next CSR report. Let us hope that this will serve as an example for other organizations.