Stakeholders & disability

A conversation with Esteban Tromel, Senior Disability Specialist at International Labour Organization

What are the main challenges of disability at the workplace?


The International Labour Organization (ILO) – the UN specialized agency on labour and workplace related issues – has 186 member states, and employs around 2,700 persons from over 150 nations at its headquarters in Geneva, and in around 40 field offices around the world. The ILO working environment is therefore very diverse. However, this also brings challenges for ILO. To institutionalize the importance of disability within the organization, the ILO adopted a disability inclusion strategy and action plan early in 2015. We believe that top level commitment by any organization is key to promoting disability inclusion throughout the organization, which in turn leads to increased commitment by all employees. For effective implementation of strategies, they need to be accompanied with useful and relevant tools.



What advice would you suggest to L’Oréal as we continue to manage disability and inclusion? 


We are delighted that L’Oréal – a member of the ILO Global Business and Disability Network – was among the first 11 multinational enterprises that signed the Business Charter on disability inclusion in 2015.. The ILO also welcomes L’Oréal’s commitment to make disability inclusion and diversity a company-wide objective – and to include stakeholders in the strategy. Many of L’Oréal’s offices in different regions (e.g. Peru and China) have been very active in collaborating with the Network, and together we have reached out to more companies to further promote disability inclusion in these countries.

The challenge managing disability is often how to measure progress in reaching t objectives (e.g. in numbers of recruited persons with disabilities) – therefore, an action plan, including tools and support offered to e.g. HR managers and recruiters would be important. Communicating success is particularly relevant in countries where the general belief is that people with disabilities cannot work or can only work in the informal economy. Many companies also find collaboration between companies at national level useful, through e.g. joint trainings, advocacy to Government to set up mediation services. Through the collaboration with the ILO Global Business and Disability Network, we hope to be able to support at least part of this journey.


ILO Business & Disability Network:


A conversation with Caroline Casey, Founder at Kanchi
What are the main challenges of disability in the U.K.?
The same challenges I believe exist in everywhere – our misunderstanding and misconception of disability. Despite huge efforts on behalf of many individuals and organizations, people are still being defined by their disability or physical condition, rather than their character. I also believe that without the business community and systems valuing people with disabilities as customers, talent, suppliers and members of our communities we shall never achieve an equal society. 


What would you suggest to L’Oréal as they continue to manage disability inclusion in the U.K?
Visible commitment from top management and positioning diversity as a business driver not a CSR or discretionary item. I believe this is about leadership, culture and brand and should be positioned within the business at the highest level.





A conversation with Carla Bonino, Policy Officer, Coordinator of the CSR+D Network at Fundacion ONCE and Maria Tussy, Head of European Programmes Unit at Fundacion ONCE

What are the main challenges of diversity in Spain ?

The main challenges in Spain could be applied to the whole European Union. The ageing population that could develop a disability linked to age, youth and senior unemployment, full accessibility to goods, services and environments, and the increase of racism and xenophobia. All these challenges carry the risk of generating a less cohesive and inclusive society. These factors build a more complex reality as regards diversity management.


The alliance between Fundacion ONCE and L’Oréal started in 2010, when the company became a founding partner of the European Network on CSR and Disability, led by Fundación ONCE, with the co-funding of the European Social Fund). Since then, both organisations have worked together promoting Disability at the European level, being an example of the public-private Partnership and of the multi-stakeholder approach. e.g., the European Award of Social Entrepreneurship and Disability


Learn more on CSR+D Network :

Conversation with Ivy Wong, Programme Associate at Community Business

What are the main challenges of disability in Hong Kong?


The challenges are barriers, both socially/culturally and physical.

It is often observed that people with disabilities are disadvantaged not so much by the impairments themselves but by society’s reaction and treatment of them.  This is certainly true in Hong Kong.  Whilst general awareness and education is gradually improving, traditional attitudes and beliefs towards disability still exist and can cause significant challenges for people with disabilities.  Society often makes assumptions about individuals based on their medical condition or disability and this can limit their opportunities both in terms of education and in terms of their wider integration into society.

Aside from social challenges, people with disabilities also face physical barriers in terms of accessibility. Hong Kong is making great strides in improving the accessibility of its infrastructure and accessibility is increasingly being built into the design of new buildings, roads, pathways, parks and recreation facilities. However, physical barriers do exist. Many older buildings for example, do not have ramps or elevators for people who use wheelchairs; buildings often have washrooms for men and women on different floors which can make it difficult for the person with disabilities to access; and in the limited space of Hong Kong, access is often not wide enough for a wheelchair user to pass through.



What advice would you suggest to L’Oréal as we continue to manage disability and inclusion? 


When it comes to promoting a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities in Hong Kong, Community Business encourages L’Oréal to continue to take a leadership role in driving a cultural change – both within its own organization and beyond.  This includes asking questions such as:

  • What role can we play in challenging mindsets about people with disabilities in Hong Kong, showcasing their abilities rather than their disabilities?
  • What opportunities can we provide to young people with disabilities so that they can participate more fully and achieve their full potential – particularly in terms of education and employment?
  • How can we leverage the insights and unique perspectives disabled people brings to better understand, reflect and serve the needs of our customers and partners?


We also encourage L’Oréal to continue to raise its profile as an employer of choice for people with disabilities in Hong Kong, working in partnership with local external experts like us, Community Business, and developing targeted strategies to attract, retain and develop talent with disabilities.