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Disability in Non-Financial Information: A special look at the Case of Spain

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Since the adoption of the Directive 2014/95/EU on non-financial and diversity information by the European Commission, different EU members states are set to adjust their regulations to ensure its effective implementation and reinforce transparency practices throughout the EU. In this article, Carla Bonino, CSR and Sustainability Head of Unit, from Fundación ONCE  dives into the Disability in Non – Financial Information to provide a special look on the Case of Spain.

As it is well known, during the last years, the Directive 2014/95/EU on non-financial and diversity information has been transposed into the different EU member states regulations. Although the processes and results have been different, there is no doubt that this Directive introduced relevant changes regarding non-financial and diversity information throughout the EU, reinforcing the transparency practice.

Special attention here is paid to the case of Spain, with its recent Law 11/2018 adopted on December 29, 2019. Particularly, to how this Law has deepened the issue of diversity, introducing the disability and accessibility dimensions, in alignment with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (more than 1 billion people worldwide), ratified by all EU countries and the EU itself.

This milestone is the result of a long way that started with the EU CSR European Strategy adopted in 2011, which recognized the aspect of disability in the CSR agenda for the first time, followed by relevant European Parliament resolutions in 2013. Then, after the approval of the Directive 2014/95/EU, two other important facts took place: one was the publication in 2015 of the first ever “Guide on Disability in Sustainability Reporting” applicable at international level and elaborated by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Fundación ONCE, with the co-funding of the European Social Fund (about to be updated). Moreover, in 2017, the European Commission published its Guidelines on non-financial reporting, where disability was explicitly included, with difference references to employment, accessibility, human rights, and board diversity.

In Spain, organizations such as Fundación ONCE together with the Spanish Committee of Representatives of People with Disabilities (CERMI) have contributed to the necessary inclusion of people with disabilities in the Spanish Law on non-financial and diversity information. This way, the recent regulation calls on companies affected by the law to report on aspects such as non-discrimination of people with disabilities and universal accessibility, mentioning “disability” and “accessibility” 9 and 4 times respectively throughout the Law. Companies, for example, are required to report on policies and actions in this field and on employees with disabilities.

Also, for listed companies, the Law includes disability within the diversity factors regarding the Board, and sets the need to guarantee accessibility for people with disabilities and the elder when accessing prior information and voting in shareholders general meetings.

In practice, more and more companies worldwide are integrating disability in their strategies as a source of talent, innovation and business opportunities. The fact that Disability was in Davos agenda in the past days makes a clear point. Creating competitive, sustainable and inclusive business is perceived as possible and necessary by and increasing number of companies. Indeed the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals greatly contribute in this way, and they expressly recognize people with disabilities. In conclusion, the disability dimension is part of sustainability, CSR, human rights or diversity strategies that “leave no one behind”.