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Telefónica - Telefónica Ability Awards

Added on 22-03-2013





Business challenge

The main reason is the commitment of Telefónica with people with disabilities. The integration of people with disabilities in the value chain of companies remains a challenge. The communication and acceptance of the latest and most successful practices in this field can contribute to this task.

This concept has led Telefónica to launch the “Telefónica Ability Awards” in Spain, where people with disabilities represent more than 8% of the population. And there are 650 million people with disabilities in the world (1 billion including also family and friends).

*The awards are positive for everybody:

  • For people with disabilities, because the awards foster their inclusion in society, providing products and services that cover their demands as customers, or actively working to live independently.
  • For the majority of customers, because we all benefit from “design for everybody” (accessible design).
  • For society, because they incorporate a group of nearly 3.8 million people, which amounts to 7 million when including also family and friends, with all its rights.
  • And for the competitiveness and the strength of Spain as a country, because disability can be a competitive advantage for our country in the midst of the 2020 agenda.


  • Transmit the objective of the awards. Opposite to traditional awards, which put emphasis on philanthropy, the Telefónica Ability Awards publicly acknowledge all those companies and institutions that develop sustainable business models through the inclusion of people with disabilities in the chain of value creation regardless of their status (i.e. employees, suppliers and/or customers);
  • Engage the main players on disability in order to get their support for the awards;
  • Get candidates;
  • Get the attention of the media.


The Telefónica Ability Awards give recognition to companies and institutions that develop sustainable business models that include persons with disabilities in the value creation chain, whether as employees, providers and/or customers. At the same time these awards allow candidates to spread their best practice examples and network with their stakeholders, particularly through The Ability Club, a common interest network to exchange good practice examples and generate knowledge. Ability Club:

The “Ability Awards” reach Spain with the guarantee of their success in Ireland, where they are sponsored by Telefónica O2 Ireland. Their founder, Caroline Casey, responsible for the non-profit organisation Kanchi created them five years ago to change society’s perception of disability.

The Awards have 9 categories:

Main categories:

  • Commitment of Executive Management and leadership of employees;
  • Recruiting and selection;
  • Accessibility;
  • Customer counseling; 
  • Professional progress and training and Prevention and retention.

Additional categories:

  • Best large private company;
  • Best small or medium private company; 
  • Best public sector organization.

Process Mainstreams:

  • Candidates recruitment-12 weeks
  • Verification Process- 4 months
  • Jury: to guarantee the equity of the process there are two juries: the preliminary judge, who is the one that appoint the pre-finalists (Ability Companies) and, the final judge, who is the one that appoint the winners.
  • The Ability Companies (pre-finalists) integrate The Club Ability

Key elements for the process: a technical jury that selects the finalists, who are then considered as "Ability Companies or Organizations" – the organizations which best incorporated disability into their value chain- and a final jury, made up of some thirty personalities and representatives from ministries, universities, trade unions, associations working in the field of disability and other business and social organizations.

Telefónica’s role is to act as a facilitator and integrator, assisting the Foundation, which is the real driving force behind changing perceptions towards disability, in its duties.

Pillars of the awards:

  • Inclusiveness: the awards enjoy the support of the whole Spanish disability sector.
  • Corporate dialogue: a joint effort is required to overcome the concept that disability must be approached through assistance. Thus, corporate organizations and trade unions are essential.
  • Transparency and rigor: PwC will guarantee these basic premises.
  • Sharing experiences: Telefónica intends to transmit the good practices that are discovered through The Ability Club.
  • Communication: persons with disabilities and their stories of achievement, dreams, etc.will be given visibility with the help of the Spanish television (TVE).



  • Contribute to the inclusion of people with disabilities in society.
  • Push the “design for all” as something natural for the businesses instead of something extraordinary.
  • Create a worldwide reference to share knowledge and better practices around disability.


  • The initiatives related to disability need to be supported by the main players (disability associations, trade unions, Government, business associations, etc.)
  • The relevance to push SME’s to analyze their best practice examples on disability to share them through the awards and get the recognition of society.
  • The importance of having an independent verification entity in order to get transparency and consistency.
  • The importance of media support to raise awareness in society.

Challenges/Lessons learned:

Social Impact

  • The participation: 456 proposals from 273 organisations.
  • The winners were announced in January 2011 in a gala chaired by Her Majesty Queen Sofía of Spain and attended by 400 other guests.
  • Media

Audience: 57,602,737 people (more than 200 articles in press; more than 400 articles in Internet and 10 mentions in TV)

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