Barbara Contini is 45 years old; she manages a water emergency service, is an archery champion, and she is blind. She is also the star of an inclusion success story, which has led her, together with her company and specialised technicians, to create a project for overcoming the barriers of stereotypes and sometimes real prejudices, which often lead to the exclusion of people with disabilities from the world of work. The Guide Project was realised by CAP Group, the green utility that manages the water service for the Metropolitan City of Milan, Deloitte Digital and Salesforce, who brought together technology and human relations, working with Barbara to design, programme and implement a customised version of one of the most efficient digital platforms. The project also involved the optimisation of the tools Barbara uses on a daily basis in her work for CAP in customer management.
“For blind people, working should not be arduous. This is why we wanted to create something really new,” explains Michele Tessera, CIO of CAP Group. “This is an important project both for blind people, who will be able to experience new possibilities and professional opportunities, and for the companies themselves, who would otherwise risk missing out on their talent and potential. I hope that we can be an inspiration to many other companies.”
The project is the subject of a documentary, devised by the creative agency ACNE and directed by Veronica Ciceri, presented on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in a form accessible to the blind and the deaf. "We blind people have overcome challenges that once seemed impossible,” explains Barbara Contini in the documentary. “I managed to become Italian Paralympic champion in archery, but there are still many objectives yet to be achieved. Indeed, there is still one important barrier that we have to break down: full integration in the world of work.”
"This is a pioneering project and we are proud to have contributed to the creation of a new model that, thanks to technology, will enable many companies to welcome blind people into the world of work,” says Federico Besana, Deloitte Digital partner for CAP Group.
“For Salesforce, inclusion is a key word and this project is the best way to give shape to this fundamental value,” adds Vanessa Fortarezza, Country Leader of Salesforce Italia. “We are really very proud of what we have achieved to provide Barbara with an accessible and advanced working tool.”
According to the most recent ISTAT data, in 2019 there were 3.15 million persons with disabilities in Italy, 5.2% of the population, of whom about 2 million aged between 15 and 64. Of these, only 32.2% of those with severe limitations are in employment, compared to 59.8% of people without limitations. There are over 122,000 fully or partially blind people (INPS pensioner record data INVCIV, 2018), and their unemployment rate is 70%, compared to the national average of 10.5%, ISTAT data November 2018. The aim of The Guide Project is to demonstrate that, through investment, innovation and technology, it is possible to change the way the world of work sees people with disabilities, who, as Barbara says in her documentary, can thus be transformed from numbers into valuable resources for Italian businesses. Launched in the autumn of 2022, The Guide Project involved an initial phase of listening to Barbara and learning about her difficulties with the Salesforce CRM platform used to handle real-time customer enquiries. The Deloitte Digital team, specialising in the implementation of Salesforce services for businesses, has worked to optimise the system by making it more inclusive and fully accessible, overcoming the digital ‘architectural barriers’ to enable Barbara to handle even the most urgent and complex tasks, such as emergency responses, immediately and naturally. In the first three months of operation, Barbara managed 2,552 requests in total autonomy. CAP Group has always stood out in the panorama of public utilities for its continuous investment in innovation, research and development, amounting to more than €1 billion since 2014, with a further half a billion forecast over the next five years. And it’s not only about technology: CAP Group has also decided to invest in inclusiveness and maximum accessibility of its IT tools, as demonstrated by The Guide Project. This commitment covers every area of work: in 2023 CAP was the first public company to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Milan Women's Council to promote equality and prevent gender-based violence in the workplace. And it was with this council that, for the first time ever in Italy, CAP brought a project of inclusiveness and overcoming stereotypes to a nursery school.
To watch the documentary on The Guide Project: https://youtu.be/HIe2y9zRA8k