The project “A Valueable Network”, funded by the European Union since 2014, was created to promote the employment of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in the hospitality sector. A Valueable Network has been designed with the aim to build a worldwide network of intellectual disability-friendly restaurants and hotels that offer internships and jobs to young people with ID.
Valueable’s success is largely due to its distinctive trait, which makes it different from many other social projects. Including people with ID in a company is not philanthropy, but strategy. There is evidence worldwide, as well as among Valueable members, that including people with ID in the staff brings multiple benefits to the company: it improves the corporate climate, workers get along better, there is lower workforce turnover, customers are more indulgent and positive towards the overall company. Apart from the increased well-being of the community, companies are rewarded for their social commitment, meaning that their image and reputation improves, such as sales and customer satisfaction.
THE TRADEMARK AS RECOGNITION FOR SOCIAL COMMITMENT
The Valueable label is a certification awarded to companies that sign a code of conduct and commit to train their staff on disability issues, and specifically commit to include people with intellectual disabilities as interns (bronze label), temporary or permanent workers (silver label) and promote the Valueable practices engaging other companies (gold label).
The project involves 13 organizations in 6 different countries: Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Hungary, with more than 400 people with ID at work, in Europe. On March 21st, 2018, in New York, during the 13th anniversary of the World Down Syndrome Day, Valueable was recognized as a world best practice by the UN. In November 2018, one year ahead of schedule, the project exceeded the target of 100 members (previously declared to the European Union).
RESPONSIBILITY AND COMPANY DIMENSION
As the diversity of Valueable network organizations shows, social responsibility is not just about big companies. The network includes small family-run restaurants, bars and big players, such as McDonald's, Burger King, Domino's Pizza, and IKEA Food as well. Hotels range from B&Bs and hostels to international chains such as Melià, Best Western, NH and Hilton.
Valueable is designed to give companies a 360-degree support. In each country, organizations wanting to join Valueable are supported by specialized training agencies in the field of disability, at all stages of the employment process: from selection, to recruiting, interviews, and assessment, till the actual inclusion of workers in the company. There are procedures’ manuals, an app to support new employers, e-learning training courses for hospitality managers and online tutorials.