Transcript #88: B2B Disability Inclusion Efforts and Progress in Mexico

Episode Flyer for #88: B2B Disability Inclusion Efforts and Progress in Mexico

Episode Flyer for #88: B2B Disability Inclusion Efforts and Progress in Mexico

Guest: Claudia Guardiola Martínez      Guest Title: Manager of Movement Congruence, Inclusive Labor of people with disabilities

Date: December 27, 2017            Guest Company: Movimiento Congruencia


[Intro Music]


Debra:                     Hello, everyone. Felix Navidad, and merry Christmas. Happy new year. Happy holidays. You are listening to Human Potential At Work, and I’m really, really excited to have my guest today joining me from Mexico. Her name is Claudia Guardiola, which I know that I said that incorrectly, so luckily, she’s going to say it correctly for us. She’s also going to tell us the name of the association that she manages in Mexico.

                                    Let me tell you why I have her on the program. I had the pleasure to join the International Labor Organizations Global Business Disability Network in Geneva. There were many corporations present, but we also had disability associations from around the world. The next day, this was at two days, and the next day, we got to meet all the national disability groups. Claudia really, really impressed me with what they’re doing in Mexico. I said, “Claudia, you’ve got to be on the show, and you’ve got to tell the brands that are listening to the show what you’re doing in Mexico.” She was very gracious to say yes, and I’m really excited about having the conversation. Claudia, welcome to the program. Please pronounce your name correctly since I apologize that I know I said it very terribly.

Claudia:                  Hi, Debra, hi. Thank you for having me in your show. You have it just right. Claudia Guardiola. That’s how my name is. You said it correctly.

Debra:                     Good, good, good.

Claudia:                  I hope your audience enjoy this chat.

Debra:                     Yes, so tell us the name of your organization. One thing that I loved about … There’s so many things that I really liked about what you’re doing, but I liked that it’s a business-to-business association. It’s about disability inclusion and making sure that people with disabilities are included in all aspects of these conversations, and from employment to inclusion in every aspect of life. There were 20 national groups involved at the International Labor Organization, and in my humble opinion, I thought that Mexico really stood out as one of the best. Congratulations for the effort you have made.

Claudia:                  Thank you. Thank you very much for your kind words. It has been a huge effort to put this together. Movimiento Congruencia, that’s the name of the foundation, of the organization. In english, it would be something like Congruency Movement, and it’s a business foundation, as you said. It was created in 2004, so we have been operating for 13 years. It was created by companies, by the companies, which see the need to include this diverse talent, and of course, then, the inclusion ratio in Mexico is still really low. We would like to see it grow, maybe more steep, but we are doing several different lines of work. We are trying really hard to increase this. In Mexico, according to the last census, we have 7.5 million of persons with disabilities. This means that 6.6% of the population of the total population in Mexico. According to our data, to the government data, it’s only three persons out of 10 with disability, only three persons have a job. There is much, much work to do here.

Debra:                     Quick question, Claudia. I know that we, in the United States and other countries do census, but often, we see sometimes, people with disabilities don’t self-identify themselves. We find that the numbers are really lower. The reported numbers are lower than what we actually think the numbers are. Do you think that’s true in Mexico?

Claudia:                  That’s true, yes, yes.

Debra:                     Yes, I would assume that is true as well.

Claudia:                  Yes.

Debra:                     I think it’s part, but I think the numbers are still low.

Claudia:                  Low, yes, and I think that’s one of the main challenges to have real data, to collect the real data that really speaks for the reality. These is official numbers according to the government census, so we have to use that, but of course, that’s something we know that many people do not talk about their disability because there’s still a stigma around that. We are dealing with that issue as well with the labor inclusion, with the young inclusion in the companies. In Movimiento Congruencia, as you said, one of our main mission is to promote and build awareness and facilitate the inclusion of person with disability. One of the things that we also do is to generate synergies between organizations, both public and private.

                                    There is a number of principles, which we are working since the foundation of the association. The first of these principles is that we are sensible. We know that there are realities that affect us all, and that is disability. We will, in many times of our life, we will have, very likely to have a disability, either temporary or permanent. It’s truly a social issue for all of us, not just persons with disability.

Debra:                     I agree, I agree.

Claudia:                  Yes, and we also recognize talent and potential with persons with disability. We think, we really think that they should be naturally considered in every recruitment process in every company. We promote accessibility in Mexico. That’s one of the main issues that accessibility infrastructure. It’s very sad that maybe it’s not about competency of the person. It’s about infrastructure. The person cannot get in the company to perform a job. Something so basic as that maybe is the challenge, the first challenge we have to deal with. We are still working on accessibility in Mexico. Many of the public spaces are still not accessible. Public transportation is still not accessible, so it’s really a major issue here. We also believe for our organization, we believe that by being inclusive, we add value to the organizations. I mean it’s not just, as I said, such a responsibility. It’s, I think, an issue of value in the organization. We’ll have to address this social disadvantage, which we are all responsible for that.

Debra:                     Right. Let me ask you a couple of questions, Claudia. Can you give us an example of some of the corporate brands that started the association and that are engaged with what you’re doing?

Claudia:                  Yes. Yes, of course. One of them is SEMEX with the [Sharp 00:08:01] first national Mexican company, big one. The other one is ALFA, Grupo ALFA, which is a big group here in Mexico. We also have Arca Continental, which is Coke in Mexico. We have pretty big companies that form this association, Grupo SIGGLUS, Grupo Sigma Alimentos, which are on the industry of food and processing goods, grupo Pruhesa. They are one of the founders, which are still part of the board of directors of this association.

Debra:                     Which is very exciting seeing these big companies, multinational some of them, corporation supporting people with disabilities in all of Mexico. That’s very exciting. Claudia, I know that you’re part of the International Labor Organizations Global Business Disability Network as one of the national disability networks. How did you get involved with that? Was there benefit to your members being part of the United Nations ILO group?

Claudia:                  Yes, of course. We found it really like a step forward to do that. In Movimiento Congruencia, we were a national association. We were creating synergies between companies in Mexico. Most of them just national, but in Mexico. We were talking about just the reality in Mexico. Our first approach to ILO was last August. They have a summit in Peru for Latino-America, so we were invited to that summit. There, we realized that we were sharing the same problems and challenges with other countries. We were invited to form or create the national network in Mexico. We agreed. We are formally … We formalized that alliance with ILO. It’s nice to see that we are all aligning our interests towards that theme, right?

                                    For our companies, of course, it is creating value, adding value because now we can share with practices, not only in Mexico but in other parts, in other regions of the world. In part, for instance, in Latin America of this group, sometimes, in Latin American countries, we share realities. We share problems, so we can benefit mutually about sharing what’s working in one region and what’s working with other regions. Definitely, it will add value. It’s taking us a higher step in our purpose.

Debra:                     I agree. I find often as I travel around the world and work on the disability inclusion that there are certain segments that we see are not being included. I mean there’s so much work to do across the board, but I’ve seen that a lot of the Latin American countries, they have so much work to do. The Spanish speakers are being left out of many of these conversations. Now, you take it, and you look at the Portuguese speakers, Brazil and Portugal and others, and that adds to the problem. In the United States for example, we have a lot of Spanish speakers in the United States. Often, the services that we’re providing to English-speaking people with disabilities, the Spanish speakers are not always getting the same services. Not that they can’t get them, but there’s a lot of reasons why. There’s lack of awareness. There’s cultural issues. There’s, like you’ve said earlier, sometimes, people not really wanting to admit they have a disability or they need help. There’s a lot of reasons why it doesn’t … The supports that are actually available are not getting to the Spanish speakers.

                                    I’ve been seeing quite a bit that it’s very important that we reach out, not only to other countries but other countries that speak the same languages that we do, which is why I was really excited to see such progress that was being made in Mexico. I think there’s a lot that you can bring to the United States to tell us about the successes that you’re having. I also think, as we’ve said, many multinational corporations, whether they’re located … It doesn’t matter what country they’re in. They have offices and personnel, staff in Mexico. If you are a multinational corporation, then you should be including people with disabilities in all of your locations. I know that for example, Cisco has a lot of employees in Mexico. This opportunity for these multinational brands to go to organizations like yours and join these conversations in Mexico and in the rest of the Spanish-speaking countries. I think that’s one reason why I really am impressed with what you’re doing because it can be a catalyst, not only for Mexico but for the US and many other countries at the same time.

Claudia:                  Yes. That issue you are addressing is really important because of course, those national companies, they usually have a very strong policy, a standardized policy, but of course, they have to deal with, geographically diversity. This applies not only to disabilities but also traditional customs, minority groups in each country and of course, it is important to address those specific challenges for diversity and inclusion. They will likely vary from region to region. It is the same, the challenges in Mexico as they might be in India or in Asia. We share some problems, maybe poverty, maybe education access for the people, but the culture, it has a really strong interference there. The international companies, they have to have that on mind when they launch their standardized policies. It really is a challenge.

                                    For instance, here in Mexico, we also deal with other social problems, not only disability and only the preconceptions that comes with the concept. We also have to take in mind other minority groups. For instance, if they are an indigenous population, they are part of another minority, we also have to deal with the gender inequality. We are still dealing with that, so if you are adding these different situations, you end up with some groups that are really, really, really under the equality line. That’s part of the thing. We have to work on that. We have to work on that challenge.

Debra:                     Yes, and Mexico has signed and ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The United States, of course, has signed it but not ratified it, which is unfortunate, but it’s nice to see leadership coming from Mexico. I think one thing that, as I travel around different countries that for example, Spanish-speaking countries, I think sometimes, I assumed that a lot of the problems were the same. One thing that I found that as I went between the different countries, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, as you go to the different countries, like you said, they have all these other situations. You can’t assume that just because something works in one Spanish-speaking country, that it’s going to work in another. I think that’s why it’s so important in that we have leadership coming from one of the biggest countries from Mexico. I’ve seen that, so I know that these multinationals are seeing these issues as well. That’s why it’s so critical that they work with business-to-business associations that are supporting people with disabilities and are run by people with disabilities.

                                    This is, to me, the best of both worlds. I think I really want to challenge corporate brands to make sure that you’re engaging with organizations like Claudia’s, so that you can get the benefit of being sure that we’re including everybody across the board. Claudia, let’s talk a little bit more about some of the programs that you offer to these businesses.

Claudia:                  One of them is, one, the [sea-li-sation 00:17:33] course that we have with the Tecnológico de Monterrey, which is the biggest university here in Mexico. It’s [inaudible 00:17:41]. It is the first of its kind in Latin America, and we are really program of this program. This program is really important to us because the participants of this program, they develop and implement an inclusion program for each of their companies. They end up with a project that it’s going to be launched in the company. This means that they are taking specific actions to facilitate a cultural change, and ultimately, it means more job positions for people with disabilities. We also have an empathy, inclusiveness-empathy workshop, which we have designing inclusive job description course. We have a life and career planning. We have a menu of different services that’s according to the company needs. We also have one program for each goal, Incluye Awards. Every year, we recognize and publicize outstanding in practices, food practices and promoting the social and professional inclusion of people with disabilities. It will work great.

                                    This year, 2017, we received 56 applications from all over the country to participate in this Incluye Awards. There are six categories in this award. We give one award in, one for employment for persons with disability, another for accessibility, inclusion in the value of change, community outreach, educational inclusion. It’s a good way to know what are all these good practices that are happening around the country. Then, afterwards the ceremony, we give our catalog of these practices that [inaudible 00:19:46] these studies. We share all that information. We also have a program about educational alliances because we found that sometimes, a company is already sensible. It’s opening positions, but we do not have the qualification field to apply to that, so what’s the problem? The problem, the main, the one step back is access to education. We are trying to make sure that people with disabilities are also having this part of their development.

                                    With me and universities, we promote and facilitate inclusion of students with disabilities into university and post-graduate degree programs. We do that through scholarships, through paid internship programs. We also have an employment bureau for those students. We guarantee that those university students will have their internship guarantee in one of the companies that are members of Movimiento Congruencia. That’s a really worked on work area we’re working in. We also have the job board for persons with disability, which is a change bureau for companies and persons that are looking, and we’re trying to do the match. We have to find those opportunities. Currently, about 1,400 persons with disability are working in our member companies, so we are really happy about that. We hope this number goes, increase every year. Hopefully, it’s happening.

                                    Currently, we have around 300 job-seekers in our platform, so hopefully, we will find something for them in the near future. In other activities, we conduct a yearly survey. We want to have data. We need the information, and there’s no other organization that provides information, so we create, and we run our survey with our members. That’s how we know. We measure the progress or the lack of progress. We are trying to do this exercise at least once a year. Well, in our future plans, we want to develop a disability certification for business because in Mexico, we do not have that kind of certification. We think it is really important to have a standard, so we can also help the companies to have the tools they need to include persons with disabilities. That’s one of our future plans for this year, for 2018. Well, right now, one of the main challenges that we have, that we see is that in average, 0.43%, that’s the percentage of inclusion in Mexican companies. We are not even at 1%.

Debra:                     Who are some of the companies that won the awards this year?

Claudia:                  For Employment for Persons with Disability, the winner was Hershey.

Debra:                     Hershey? Oh, okay, cool. I’m going to buy some candy right now. Okay, Congratulations to Hershey. How fun. Claudia, I don’t want to keep you on too long, but before we let you go, please, will you tell corporate brands, people with disabilities, educational systems, anybody that want to come and support your organization. How do they find out about you? Are you on social media? Tell our viewers how they can find out more about what you’re doing and actually support what you’re doing.

Claudia:                  Yes. We are on social media. We have a Facebook page under Movimiento Congruencia. We also have a LinkedIn page. We have a Twitter account, so if you search Movimiento Congruencia, you will find those. You can write me on my e-mail too, [email protected] Our webpage, we have a webpage,, so please, please find those [crosstalk 00:24:35].

Debra:                     Yes, and we’ll also, on … When we post this on our radio program, we’ll make sure we provide the links. I know you’re going to send me all those links, and we’ll put it out there. If people want to go out and just click on it, know how to get involved with this really impressive group in Mexico, that it will be very easy for them to find. Thank you for making such a difference. I was so impressed with you in Geneva. You continue to impress me, so thanks for making such a difference for our community and people with disabilities. You’re changing the world, Claudia, and we applaud that. We applaud you. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Claudia:                  Thank you, Debra.

Debra:                     Yes. Happy holidays. Feliz Navidad, merry Christmas, and I wish you nothing but success in 2018. Thank you, Claudia.

Claudia:                  Thank you.

Debra:                     Bye, everyone.


[Outro Music]


You’ve been listening to Human Potential At Work with Debra Ruh. To learn more about Debra and how she can help the organization, visit If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and you want to make sure that you don’t miss any future episodes, go to iTunes, and subscribe to the podcast, Human Potential At Work. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll be back next week with a new episode.