Keep this story going! Share below!
The Without Barriers Program is an initiative of Accenture Argentina that facilitates employment opportunities for people with disabilities, providing support and follow-up necessary for an adequate adaptation to the world of work. The company works hard to attract and retain the best talent, providing an environment where everyone can develop professionally and build rewarding careers.
Accenture Argentina aims to create sustainable thinking towards both social and business affairs. In this sense, the company contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals: “Good Health and Well-Being” (Goal 3), “Quality Education” (Goal 4), "Decent work and Economic Growth" (Goal 8) and "Reduce Inequality" (Goal 10).
The initiative was born in the year 2006 with the participation of the Human Resources Department, the President of Accenture Argentina and one of the Associates of the Company. The situation that many people from the firm were involved to make the project feasible led to an effective implementation throughout the Firm in the last years.
The Without Barriers Program consists of hiring people with disabilities, with the aim to a further personal development inside the Company. The disabilities that Accenture Argentina considers in its recruitment process are motor, visual, auditory, visceral and mental (Asperger). Furthermore, Accenture hires people who meet the necessary profile and values that the company promulgates.
Accenture Argentina's policy is that each position available in the Firm can be occupied by any person, without taking into account if the candidate has a disability or not. The recruitment process to follow is the same for every candidate who is interested in working for the company. However, Accenture needs to evaluate the disability to make sure whether reasonable adjustments are needed, for instance, if an employee with a disability needs special software or whether he or she needs to work a specific number of hours per day. Moreover, the company evaluates the necessary resources in order to enable the employee to work in the best condition and the task to be developed in the best way.
Maria Inés Voncini, who was willing to share this initiate, is the actual Coordinator of the Program which belongs to the Inclusion & Diversity Department in Accenture. She mentioned the following: "Every available position in the Company is for everyone". She also explained that all the employees in Accenture are evaluated under the same measures and employees with certain limitations really appreciate to be treated with equality.
Before Accenture Argentina decided to implement the Without Barriers Program, it was aware of the unfair situation that people with a disability had to face in the job market. This situation can be explained because there is no legislation in the country that forces private companies to hire people with disabilities, as opposed to the public sector. The lack of laws and regulations lead to high unemployment rates for persons who have a disability. Nevertheless, it was the Accenture's own initiative to start hiring people with disabilities to promote equality throughout the company, having a positive contribution in the Argentine society. The company had to learn how to implement such a challenging program as there were no other companies in the country with this inclusive culture. For instance, the firm started to contact civil organizations and psychologists to acquire knowledge about how to work with employees with different disabilities. Furthermore, it is in Accenture Argentina's core values and culture to promote equality while doing business. In this line, Maria Inés Voncini explained: "The objective of Accenture is to be the most diverse and inclusive company on the planet by the year 2020".
People with disabilities face multiple challenges and barriers not only in their personal lives but also in the job market. Even though a greater commitment is being generated, some companies in Argentina may be reluctant in hiring people with disabilities as they know that this implies a high level of responsibilities and time. Yet these firms may be setting aside that everyone has the right to have a job. The lack of regulation and laws in the country to promote their inclusion in the job market makes it even harder for people with disabilities to be considered as a candidate for a job position.
It is important to mention that the economical context in Argentina does not help to promote equality and inclusion in the job market. The country has suffered successive economic crisis since the '50s of the last century, and as a result businesses are mainly focused on short-term profits and on the increase of sales. Pure economical focuses do not contribute to a sustainable social development in the long run.
Nevertheless, Accenture Argentina works to give the opportunities to people with disabilities and to raise awareness of the importance of being an inclusive company to the rest of the employees. Maria Inés Voncini explained: "I can see that there is a high level of awareness in the company, I see that the effort paid off". Moreover, the company has been increasing the number of employees with disabilities since the implementation of the Program. Actually, the number of people with disabilities incorporated every year is in line with the hiring curve throughout Accenture's Argentine branch. The Firm is willing to realize any reasonable adjustments within a work place to create the best working environment for all its employees.
Through this Program, the company is an ambassador for involving people with disabilities in the workforce and its progressive view acts as a model for other companies in the country, thus providing an example of doing business while improving society.
People with disabilities really appreciate the opportunity that Accenture Argentina provides to them taking into consideration the particular economic context in Argentina. In general terms, they work hard to deliver a high-level quality in every task they participate in as they are evaluated with the same measures and KPIs as the other employees in the company. Their positive attitude towards their task is spread out through the work environment making the team more productive and efficient. Furthermore, Accenture improves its corporate image and reputation, attracting the best talent.
Moreover, Accenture Argentina may obtain tax benefits for hiring people with disabilities if they present a certificate confirming the disability. The Firm always seeks to improve the working conditions for its employees, but especially for those who have a disability. For that reason, Accenture Argentina invests the majority of the tax savings in acquiring the necessary software, equipment and resources to maintain this Program alive.
With its Program, Accenture Argentina helps people with disabilities to be included in the job market, contributing to spreading values of equity and equality in society. Moreover, The company considers that every person has the right to her or his personal development. Maria Inés Voncini mentioned the following: "Nobody is excepted from getting a disability in the future. Some of the disabilities are genetic, others no, we don't know about our future".
Through the numbers, it is observed that the company has increased the number of employees with a disability, showing its commitment towards the Program. In 2006, when the Program started, sixteen candidates with disabilities have been hired. This number has been increasing through the years, reaching ninety employees with disabilities in 2017.
The employees with disabilities are so grateful for being part of the Program and for the opportunities given to them that they are committed to achieve their best within their health capabilities and limitations. This situation has a contagious effect in teams, creating a unique environment.
The company offers help to other private companies to implement the Without Barriers Program. This consulting service is totally free as Accenture is willing to make the Program popular. The only requirement is commitment. In this line, Accenture Argentina's President and the counterpart have a meeting to demonstrate their own commitments to carry on this project together. Furthermore, NGOs or disabilities institutions which are also interested in the Without Barriers Program may also obtain help from Accenture. The employees with disabilities collaborate as instructors of these courses along with the rest of the Accenture volunteers who wish to participate.
Finally, Accenture Argentina works with a diverse range of suppliers, for instance concerning cleaning and food. During tendering, Accenture puts on the table its commitment to inclusion and stresses the importance of its suppliers being aligned to this commitment and also hiring employees with disabilities. Accenture offers help to their suppliers in every issue they may have about working with employees with disabilities.
Get stories of positive business innovations from around the world delivered right to your inbox.
Maria Ines Voncini, Without Barriers Program Coordinator
Accenture Argentina helps its clients overcome the most complex challenges through their services in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Accenture drives innovation to help improve the way the world lives and works.