Zero Project Partner Dinner 2020 – lived inclusion

In February, Raiffeisen Bank International hosted a partner dinner with inspiring speeches and insights into the topic of inclusion against the background of the Zero Project Conference.

Harald Kröger, CEO of Raiffeisen Centrobank, welcomed the international conference guests as well as representatives of RBI and other Raiffeisen organizations. In his speech he hoped for a future in which inclusion is lived and in which everyone can successfully contribute their potential. In doing so, he referred to the impressive initiative of Martin Essl's Zero Project and sees disability as an opportunity to be seized.

In his opening speech, Martin Essl, founder of the Essl Foundation, went into more detail about his heart's desire for Zero Project for the exchange of ideas, innovations and best practices for a barrier-free life. He sees the employment of people with disabilities as a great advantage, which is why he is also promoting this topic in company and industry dialogues. By involving those affected, true accessibility can be created in order to provide the best possible support for these people, who make up 15 to 20 percent of the population. For this year's topic Inclusive Education, he was invited to the parliament and received a lot of support from the political side. He finds it particularly gratifying that people from the autism spectrum – with the help of Specialisterne Austria – already have the opportunity to contribute their skills as employees at RBI.

Andrea Sihn-Weber, Head of the RBI Group Sustainability Management, subsequently emphasized in her statement that the inclusion topic has already been promoted at RBI for several years within the framework of the initiative "Diversity2020". In the development of measures, RBI closely cooperates with external experts such as myAbility Social Enterprise GmbH and Specialisterne Austria. With myAbility, for example, a strategy check was carried out in the company in order to further optimize inclusion measures. In addition, RBI has already participated in the myAbility Talent Program twice. So-called Sensing Journeys, where one could personally get in touch with people with disabilities, also contributed to breaking down barriers in people's minds. Nevertheless, Andrea Sihn-Weber is aware that RBI's journey to become an inclusive employer has only just begun, but it will be consistently continued.

The effectiveness of the Zero Project is also demonstrated by the fact that to date 75 innovative practices and 11 innovative laws have already been developed by the 1,300 experts from over 100 countries. One of the experts is Caroline Casey from Ireland. At the Zero Project Partner Dinner, she gave a moving speech - backed up by personal insights into her handicap - about her project The Valuable 500. With the conviction "If people don't come to me, I have to come to them!" she is looking for 500 well-known CEOs who live the promise of a more inclusive workforce. She has already achieved more than half of her plan. She has been able to attract 258 global companies with more than 11 million employees to her cause. And she continues to fight because she knows that global change in every sense can only be achieved together. She further explained that everyone should be able to prove themselves with their personal skills, but that in today's society this is unfortunately an inclusion illusion. And this, although every person is confronted with the topic of disability sooner or later - whether in dealing with others or even when getting older. For this reason, she cites the economy as the driving force for positive change. Inclusive companies create an inclusive society, or as Caroline Casey so aptly put it: "One thing we have in common is our difference!

All guests of the evening were aware of the importance of their commitment to inclusion. Some also shared private experiences of success and thus gave a further impetus to actively participate. The best practice examples could not be more diverse and ranged from accessible websites, to bringing together leaders and people with disabilities to exchange ideas and potential job opportunities in promising industries for young talents, to a website that displays accessible places around the globe.

06.03.2020 - Sustainability