Best Corporate Project for Disabled





On 13 October 2008 in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, the award ceremony of the ‘Corporate Donor of Russia 2008’ competition took place. The Donors Forum organised this competition for businesses, involved in charitable and social responsibility projects. For the first time, on the initiative of the UN Office in the RF, it included a nomination for the ‘Best programme, contributing to the creation of favourable environment for life and work of disabled people – support to people with disabilities to ensure their equal participation in the life of the society’.

Both public and state structures were among the co-organizers of the third contest in a row, including the Ministry of Economic Development of the RF, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), Public Chamber Committee on Charity Development and Improvement of Legislation on NGOs, as well as the RF State Committee of Youth Affairs and the United Nations.

Ensuring equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities in the Russian Federation is a major issue today. According to official data, over 14 million people in Russia have a disability. Unfortunately this large population group cannot fulfil either personal or social potential, as urban environment is not architecturally suitable for people with disabilities, disabled children do not have an opportunity to study together with children of their age, and less than 15 percent of disabled people have a permanent job.

It is evident that solving this problem is impossible without involvement of all sectors of the Russian society, private and state companies that are now implementing a number of social programmes aimed at supporting people with disabilities.

Thus the aim of this nomination was to gather and demonstrate positive examples of corporate social responsibility and to show how it helps solve the problems of disabled people in the country. The nomination was introduced in the framework of intensive efforts on the part of the United Nations and civil society aimed at the promotion of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted by the UN in December 2006, and became especially relevant after Russia signed the Convention on 24 September 2008.

Within the framework of the nomination corporate programmes aimed at the following were reviewed:

- creation of conditions and infrastructure to ensure the rights of people with disabilities

- providing services for people with disabilities

- creation of employment opportunities for people with disabilities in an open labour market

- assistance in training of specialists and teachers for development of inclusive schools and supported employment

- education of people with disabilities and assistance in their professional training

- distribution of information on the rights of people with disabilities, support of projects of organizations of disabled aimed at implementation of major principles of the Convention

- support of rehabilitation programmes for disabled, as well as assistance to families with disabled children.

Four companies participated in the nomination. Not many, but we think it is a good start. Presumably many companies that have interesting projects aimed at supporting people with disabilities for the moment are considering the possibility of participation, some companies only start working in this area and, hopefully, will take part in this prestigious contest in future.

To select a winner in this nomination an expert group that included representatives of the UN Office in Russia and RSDP Perspektiva looked for innovative ideas, targeting long-term social changes, their correspondence to the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the level of involvement in their development and implementation of company employees, general public, and people with disabilities themselves.

‘Inclusive Education’ project presented by Amway met all criteria for the award and became the winner in this nomination. Experts appreciated professionalism of the programme, active involvement of employees both in the selection of the project theme and its implementation – they could take part as volunteers in various project activities. Amway aimed not only to raise as much funds as possible to implement the project but at the same time to promote the idea of inclusive education among its employees, partners and local community. An essential advantage of the project is the fact that organizations of disabled people with practical experience of establishing inclusive schools took part in it. As a result, applying international practices, the company succeeded in developing a programme that can be easily replicated in Russia’s regions.

Other projects presented for the nomination were interesting but, according to the experts, had a number of weaknesses, in particular, failed to present the required information in full probably due to lack of experience in preparation of applications for such contests. They paid insufficient attention to project planning, which resulted in inconsistency of the implementation stage (one-off activities); did not involve organizations of disabled people in project implementation or fully informed local communities about their progress. Generally, the analysis of the projects demonstrated that the most successful programmes were those, where business structures involved respective public organizations.

This generally successful experience in the development and implementation of programmes aimed at the improvement of living standards of people with disabilities may be a source of new ideas for other businesses and will help them implement the principles and requirements of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The United Nations intends to make the nomination traditional and stands ready to support companies interested in launching new projects to help people with disabilities.

Additional information is available at the Donors Forum website