Queen Sofía presided over the solemn Telefónica Ability Awards ceremony, the prizes organised by Telefónica to recognise and reward the companies and organisms that are best implementing policies that encourage the integration of the disabled into their business model. At the table of honour, the Queen was accompanied by the Chairman of Telefónica, César Alierta, the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Trade, Miguel Sebastián, and the President of the Madrid regional government, Esperanza Aguirre.
The event, which took place at District C, Telefónica’s Madrid headquarters, was attended by over 400 guests, including representatives of Autonomous Region governments, luminaries from the cultural and political spheres, representatives of union organisations, business leaders, and advocates for the disabled, as well as the media.
The Queen presented the winners of this first edition with a sculpture by the Irish artist, Shane Holland. These winners were selected by the Trustees of the Telefónica Ability Awards, composed of the Chairman of Telefónica, César Alierta, and thirty other notable individuals, including the Minister of the Presidency, Ramón Jáuregui, the Minister of Health, Social Policy, and Equality, Leire Pajín, and the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Trade, Miguel Sebastián, the President of the Madrid regional government, Esperanza Aguirre, and representatives from companies, universities, unions and associations involved in advocacy for the disabled, CERMI (Spanish Committee of Representatives of Disabled People, ONCE and Fundación ONCE.
In November, the Trustees selected 48 companies from the 273 that were initially in the running. PwC Spain provided oversight and support during the entire process, which started last April.
In this first edition, the Telefónica Ability Awards were given to the following companies and entities:
In the three ABSOLUTE CATEGORIES, the winners were Repsol, for Best Large Private Company, Hotel Entremares for Best SME and Aena, for the Best Public Institution.
In the MAIN CATEGORIES six different prizes were awarded:
- Senior management commitment and employee leadership, which recognises the entity that best integrates disabled people into its strategy, won by the Palencia-based food company Grupo Siro.
- Recruitment and selection, a prize that rewards organisations that are actively concerned with selecting and recruiting people with disabilities. MRW was the winner in this category.
- Accessibility, a prize which recognises the entity that provides the safest, securest and most accessible external and internal environments at its facilities. Sanitas was the winner of this prize.
- Customer counselling, a prize which recognises the entity that stands out for developing products and/or services targeting people with disabilities. The Ayuntamiento de Ávila won this prize.
- Professional development and training, a prize that rewards organisations that guarantee that each employee has the same training and promotion opportunities. Grupo Siro took the laurels in this category.
- Prevention and retention, recognises the company that stands out for providing the means to prevent injuries that could cause disability, and retaining employees who acquire a permanent disability. Won by Capgemini.
The role of Telefónica is to act as a facilitator and integrator and support the work of the Trustees of the Ability Awards, an important driver for changing perceptions about disabled people. In the coming years, Telefónica will hold the Ability Awards in other countries where it is present, both in Europe and Latin America.
In the words of the chairman of Telefónica, César Alierta, the Ability Awards are unique because they “put disabled people at the centre of the value chain, the same as for any client segment. Furthermore, the initiative goes beyond philanthropy, and empowers innovation for creating new sustainable business models that are able to cover the demands of this group”. “We learned a great deal from studying the candidates,” explained Alierta, “But above all, we learned the following: when you incorporate disabled people into the productive structure of any institution, you create value for everyone. We all end up winners”.
The Ability Awards originated in Ireland, where they have been sponsored by Telefónica O2 for the last four years, during which time they have had a major impact on the country’s business world and society in general. They were created by Kanchi, a non-profit organisation created to improve the relationship between disabled people and society at large. After meeting with success in Ireland, Caroline Casey, founder of Kanchi, decided to extend these awards to other countries. “There is no time like the present to export these prizes: within 10 years, 20% of the European population will have some type of disability. This represents 20% of our consumers and 20% of the market; this is a key piece of information for doing business”, explained Casey.