Disability: how to shake the taboo

The actions taken in this branch of our +d program point to a universe of possibilities, from how to be more empathetic to carrying out truly integrational talent searches.

What counts as normal? What‘s the most appropriate way to interact with a person living with a disability? What can each of us do to improve the situation? Which of our functions in the company could contribute to a more integrated Tecpetrol? On its third anniversary, the company’s diversity program already has a solid Ally Group working on the disability axis with a battery of initiatives that are bringing about far-reaching change.

“When we created the +d steering group, the idea was to include perspectives from people in all sectors, and the issue of disability came up relatively early on,” explained Esteban Grassi, head of Commercial Planning at the Shushufindi consortium in Ecuador, in a chat with Tecpetrol Hoy. "Because when you talk about diversity, it’s usually gender and racial topics that come to mind, but we don't always associate the issue with disability," completed the leader of the Ally Group.

Visibility was the first step. For the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3, 2021, the team held an open webinar called ‘Let's talk about disability’ to discuss work in this area. Subsequent surveys revealed a genuine interest throughout the company in learning more about what could be done. "We were surprised to discover that we all have certain biases, so we sought to be more inclusive right from the start," said Claudio Bertuzzi, the Human Resources Business Partner for Buenos Aires, who’s on the team.

“We have to talk about this issue in order to quash taboo. For example, I can now see clearly how mistaken it is to say that someone is 'suffering' from a disability, which has allowed me to be more empathetic,” recalled Cinthya Montoya, head of Human Resources and Community Relations in Ecuador, who’s been a team member since the beginning of the +d program. She added that when her mentor joined Tecpetrol she had a physical disability: “I had to learn to work from an unknown basis, as there’s a whole universe of beliefs and realities that comes to light once you start to delve, especially as regards common misunderstandings of what people with disabilities can or can’t do.”

Agenda for integration

Genuine interest translates into informal conversations and concrete actions. This article can now be read with the Userway tool, integrated into Tecpetrol's intranet to manage text according to different requirements. This is a great step showing the way towards a battery of initiatives being rolled out in parallel to achieve all-around integration. 

The company is currently carrying out a comprehensive evaluation of the layout of its office floors to ensure they are fully accessible, and testing evacuation procedures for wheelchair users during emergency drills, as well as studying the need to use LED fire alarms in addition to sound alerts. Meanwhile, Human Resources is adapting the way it undertakes job searches so everyone can be reached and everyone can apply.

The Welding communities program—which offers training workshops to people close to the companies in the Tecpetrol value chain—will this year be making an effort to adapt its facilities to enable people with disabilities to sign up and learn to weld. Also, a new podcast series is being released which harnesses the power of storytelling with a human twist, produced by employees to continue educating people in this area, along with webinars on more specific topics. 

The power of empathy

"There is plenty of synergy between the people who are in our Ally Group," explained Bertuzzi as he talked about collaborative work. Today, he’s on the team together with Grassi and Montoya, as well as Virginia Cesarini (senior HR analyst), Pablo Martellotta (head of Community Relations), Manuel Caride (planning coordinator), Santiago Rubio (reservoir engineer), Pablo Blasco (manager of Process Optimization), Diana Trujillo (continuous improvement engineer), Francisco Grosse (project development manager), Juan Martin Patronelli (Systems engineer), Josefina D'Hiriart (reservoir geologist), Pablo Fichera (Head of Applications in HR for HSE), Giovanna Reyes (regulatory compliance analyst), Santiago Rusin (HR Analyst), Luis Lanziani (Head of Supplier Development) and Marcelo Guszul (supplier management analyst).

"With the +d initiative, we’re taking things slowly, although it’s clearly gaining strength. One of the keys to the program’s success is that we’re not invasive, and our aim is not to change everything at the same time," said Montoya. "I feel very proud to have been a part of this from the beginning, as it helps you grow as a person."

The Ally Group already has its own backstory, present and future. "In our group, no one is a specialist in the subject,” emphasized Grassi. “We’ve spent time researching and mapping opportunities that could have an impact, making contributions aimed at ensuring work can be done by anyone, always trying to make Tecpetrol a more inclusive place."

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