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“Non-financial information and disability reporting in the European Union” - The new report of Disability Hub Europe
18 Feb 2021

On February 18, Fundación ONCE has presented the report “Non-financial information and disability reporting in the European Union”, developed in the framework of Disability Hub Europe (DHub), a European initiative led by Fundación ONCE and co-funded by the European Social Fund.

The publication analyses how the 27 EU Member States’ transpositions of the Directive 2014/95/EU on the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information, have included disability. Moreover, it deepens into the Spanish case, where the transposition of the Directive has been more ambitious in terms of disability inclusion in reporting, by analyzing the impact of the national Law in Ibex 35 companies’ reports regarding inclusion of disability-related metrics and indicators.

The study has been presented in the webinar “Non-financial information and disability reporting in the European Union” co-organized by Fundación ONCE and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), as one of the main partners of DHub. The session has counted with reference actors including the European Commission, Shift Project, European Disability Forum (EDF), L’Oréal, Acciona, KPMG and ONCE Social Group.

Maria Tussy, Director of European Programmes Unit at Fundación ONCE, opened the session emphasizing the need to promote an inclusive recovery that leaves no one behind, including the 100 million people with disabilities that live in the European Union, She also highlighted the value of the European Social Fund, as a fundamental tool to promote social and labour inclusion in the EU.

Carla Bonino, CSR and Sustainability Head of Unit at Fundación ONCE and Disability Hub Europe Coordinator, presented Disability Hub Europe, as a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at working on the binomial Disability & Sustainability. She explained the disability 360º approach that understands people with disabilities as stakeholders in a broad sense and introduced the importance of non-financial information in order to encourage more inclusive businesses.

Teresa Royo, Sustainability Director at KPMG and DHub Technical Secretariat team leader, presented the main findings of the publication. She noted that most of national transpositions of Directive 2014/95/EU in the Member States have included “diversity” in general terms without explicit reference to disability and accessibility. However, she pointed out that this did not deter two countries, Spain and France, from including specific, measurable metrics for disability and accessibility.  Finally, she highlighted that the further in-depth analysis of the Spanish IBEX 35® constituents (considering a total of 235 company reports) reveals that the entry into force of Law 11/2018 (transposing Directive 2014/95/ EU into Spanish legislation) had an impact on greater transparency as regards the disclosure of disability indicators.

At the end of her intervention, she underlined the review of the non-financial reporting Directive and the drafting of a European Reporting Standard as an opportunity to include explicit reference to disability, given that it seems to increase more disability-inclusive business performance, as stated in the Spanish case.

Afterwards, Thijs Reuten, Head of Policy at Global Reporting Initiative, moderated the discussion on “Progress towards an inclusive Non-financial reporting framework: current development and trends” with Elena Palomeque, Non-Financial Reporting Team-DG FISMA, at the European Commission; David Vermijs, Senior Advisor at Shift Project and member of the PTF NFRS of EGRAG; and Patricia Reverter, Partner of Climate Change and Sustainability at KPMG, and member of the Non-Financial Reporting Group at Accountancy Europe.

During this session, Elena Palomeque addressed the need to revise the NFDR and explained that a task force has been created to address the related challenges. Regarding the inclusion of explicit mention of disability in the NFDR, Elena mentioned that the issue is being considered very carefully. After her intervention, David Vermijs, recognized the relevance of addressing a broader perspective of diversity and inclusion in reporting, also from the perspective of affected stakeholders which includes people with disabilities. Patricia Reverter, as a member of Accountancy Europe, addressed the status of non-financial reporting in the EU in general terms, with a specific focus in Spain, and underlined the importance of accountability in non-financial information.

The next session was focused on “Promoting inclusive organizations: challenges and opportunities”; with Inmaculada Placencia, Senior Expert of social affairs, Disability and Inclusion Unit, DG EMPL at the European Commission, Haydn Hammersley, Social Policy Officer at the European Disability Forum, Leticia Novak, International Diversity & Inclusion Manager at L’Oréal and José Luis Blasco, Global Sustainability Director at Acciona.

Firstly, Inmaculada Placencia remarked that by reporting on inclusive practices companies would be able to learn from each other. She explained that regarding the standardisation of reporting, from the European Commission they are working on raising several crucial issues, such as accessibility. On his side, Haydn Hammersley considered that reporting encourages companies to think ahead of time, that it sets expectations, that it reminds companies of the notion of inclusion, and that it makes stakeholders aware of its importance. Leticia Novak highlighted the importance of creating an inclusive environment in companies, the reason why in L´Oréal they started promoting the international competition: "Disability Awards". José Luis Blasco pointed out that reporting is a tool to manage companies in a smarter way, also in terms of diversity and disability inclusion. He also highlighted that reporting should take in account all stakeholders, not just investors; and that we are going towards a “stakeholder capitalism” where the people are the centre of reporting.

Finally, Fernando Riaño, Director of Institutional Relations and Social Responsibility at ONCE Social Group, closed the webinar by reminding that sustainability has not only an environmental dimension, but also a social one and that in the end it should be about putting the person at the centre. He also highlighted the potential of non-financial information in improving transparency and performance of organizations, including diversity and disability, leaving no one behind.