Diversity is a resource, a strength that can generate innovation and growth. In this direction, in line with our Valuability® approach, we launched the Value for Disability project globally in 2020 with the goal of increasingly promoting inclusion and fully developing all the potential of people with disabilities who work in our Group. At the same time, we want to guarantee that our products and services are accessible to everyone. According to the World Report on Disability, there are 1.2 billion people on the planet who live with some form of disability, and the number is expected to double by 2050.
Bringing out the value of our people
We focus first of all on the 2,200 people with disabilities who work with us. 80% of them live in Italy, and for them we launched and are implementing various initiatives geared towards inclusion and workplace wellbeing. The Assistive Solutions Team is dedicated to all our colleagues with temporary or permanent disabilities who need information or a solution that grants them accessibility to a digital tool, the workplace, or their own workstation.
Training courses are offered to people with a visual or hearing impairment, so they can familiarize with the assistive technologies provided, which favor autonomy and allow users to always keep up with the constant digitalization process. Colleagues who are blind can learn to use Jaws, a screen reader program that leverages speech synthesis to allow users to access the most popular software applications as well as the Internet. Those with a visual impairment can learn to use Zoom text, so they can enlarge any application on the screen, change colors, and alter the shape of the mouse cursor. Hearing impaired colleagues can use Pedius, an application that enables communication thanks to speech synthesis and voice recognition technologies: during any phone call or meeting, they can use their natural voice or write a message, which is then read out loud by an artificial voice; meanwhile, the system transcribes in real-time everything said by other people on the call. In addition, during training or corporate events, we make Veasyt available: a video service that puts professional sign language interpreters by the users’ side, remotely, online, or via an app.
The Easy Space - Design for All project aims to define new guidelines to set up and manage office spaces so they are suitable for everyone. But an inclusive workplace isn’t only made of adequate furniture and user-friendly technologies: relationships are key. Therefore, we carry out a number of training initiatives for the teams welcoming colleagues with disabilities and for our People and Business Partners. One of these is Diversa-mente: it encourages participants to adopt a new approach that sees diversity not as a limitation but rather as a value for the work context, and it also helps them listen to the specific needs of people with disabilities.
Upskilling 4 and Healthy Work 2.0 are online courses dedicated to colleagues with cognitive/behavioral disabilities who strive to strengthen their IT skills, their abilities with remote work tools, and their participation in work life. All colleagues can also access a webinar about the concept of neurodiversity and the positive impact of including neurodivergent individuals in the workplace. The goal? To stop considering their neurological characteristics as defects or limitations, and instead start seeing them as differences and opportunities.
Finally, there is the interactive project Think Out of the Chair: three webinars to overthrow stereotypes and prejudice. Starting from an analysis of the words “disabled” and “disability,” we define a new narrative built with positive, rewarding descriptors for people and for the corporate ecosystem.
Our commitment beyond the company
Some estimates claim disability affects 73% of consumers. However, only 5% of companies offer inclusive products and services. Our commitment for complete inclusivity and the enhancement of diversity extends to the external context in which we operate and to the communities where we are present. Our goal is to innovate the relationship with our clients with disabilities, improving their experience and their access to our products and services. In 2021, we carried out a qualitative survey in Italy among people with hearing, visual, and motor impairments. For 2022, we entrusted BVA Doxa with extending the scope also to the elderly, caregivers, and immigrants with an elementary knowledge of the Italian language. This will help us fine-tune new ideas and tangible actions to improve the quality of the experience for our more vulnerable clients.
Here are some of the initiatives we have already launched:
- Enel X Store4All
Inclusive shopping, a “fast lane” for people with disabilities, and sign language software available on tablets make the Enel X stores and spaces more usable and accessible, guaranteeing an equal shopping experience to all clients.
- ENELPREMIA WOW! for All
As part of Enel Energia’s loyalty program for the free market, we regularly include coupons that help clients purchase goods and services that can improve their daily lives. Examples include sign language classes, online pharmacy discounts, audiobooks, platforms that help children with cognitive impairments with schoolwork, and coupons to support hearing health, in association with our other partners.
- New accessible electric recharge spaces and JuiceAbility
We are redesigning with Enel X Way the spaces used to recharge electric vehicles, making them accessible to any type of client, including people with disabilities. Furthermore, JuiceAbility – a solution stemming from our collaboration with the Italian startup Avanchair, which won the 2020 National Innovation Award – allows people who move around in an electric wheelchair to recharge it using our public infrastructure.
We also support some external projects that align with our vision. During the 2021 Cresco Award, promoted by Fondazione Sodalitas in collaboration with ANCI, we rewarded the Municipality of Fossacesia (in the province of Chieti) for its Diversamente Chiosco, a café managed entirely by young people with disabilities, with the aim of promoting their entrepreneurial spirit and social inclusion. In addition, within the program supporting the areas in central Italy struck by the 2016 earthquake, we donated to Amatrice’s CAI chapter three mountain huts for hikers, which specifically keep in mind people with disabilities. The new structures were placed along the trails that CAI (Italy’s Alpine Club) approved to accompany travelers with disabilities with the necessary equipment.