14 companies come together with government to promote greater inclusion and diversity in the workplace

Thursday, September 27, 2018: 14 private sector companies have come together as founders of The Open Doors Initiative, which will assist some of the most marginalised groups in society to gain access to workplaces through training and employment experience.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar formally launched the initiative at Accenture’s The Dock in Dublin this afternoon.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “As we move towards full employment, it is important that everyone gets the opportunity to meet their full potential and no one gets left behind. We know that people can face barriers to entering the workforce, for example, people with disabilities; young people with educational challenges or migrants and refugees who are non-native English speakers. It’s time to raise and remove those barriers.

“Industry-led initiatives such as the Open Doors Initiative will help to promote more diverse work environments by providing practical help such as work placements and training programmes to those who might otherwise find it very difficult to enter the workforce. This initiative will also complement action being taken by the Government to make the workplace more inclusive.”

The Open Doors Initiative will focus on three key marginalised groups: refugees and asylum seekers, long term youth unemployed, and people with disabilities.

Each of the 14 founding companies has signed a pledge which commits them to providing training, apprenticeships, placements, community supports and job opportunities to the key target groups. These programmes will implement work experience, training placements and related supports for the key target areas. Minster of State David Stanton was instrumental in bringing the initiative about following his experience with Diageo’s Learning for Life Programme for the refugee and asylum group earlier this year.

Set-up costs for the initiative for the first year will be provided by Diageo Ireland, while a secretariat will be provided by Business in the Community Ireland. Positive2work Skillnet and IBEC are supporting partner companies in the initiative. Other supporting partners such as the Disability Federation of Ireland and the Immigrant Council of Ireland will lend their support and expertise to employers and those participating in programmes organised by individual companies.

Speaking at today’s launch Mei Lin Yapp of CPL who took part in a previous training and employment placement programme and found permanent work, said: “Cpl invited me to be one of the first graduates of the Trinity School for People with Intellectual Disabilities to have a permanent position in Human Resources. I am delighted and excited at this opportunity and so proud to be part of their workforce. I have been made most welcome and feel very included in the workplace.

“As a person with an intellectual disability I am aware that when we dream big and others dream big for us then we can achieve our potential. Having a job makes me feel accepted and included and a fully fledged adult who can contribute to society. CPL and TCD dream big and made my dreams come true.”

Oliver Loomes, Country Director of Diageo Ireland, one of the founding members of the initiative said: “The Open Doors Initiative is about supporting minority or disadvantaged groups in accessing training, experience and employment. It is inspiring that in a very short time, so many companies have come behind the pledge and have committed to bringing about this change. We hope and ask many more to join us as we begin this journey.

Diageo Ireland are absolutely committed to this initiative. In Ireland, our Learning for Life programme, a programme that has supported over 300 people here in the last four years is set to grow. We will be investing €1million in funding on training and placement programmes over three years”.

CEO of Business in the Community Ireland, Tomás Sercovich, said: “Business in the Community Ireland is delighted to help drive the Open Doors Initiative. More than 50 companies engaged in our business-led collective action programmes on employment of marginalised people. It is imperative as our economy continues to grow that business engages in attracting and retaining talent from all corners of society. This is as much of a need for our competitive advantage as it is a need to foster more inclusive and resilient communities.”

Alastair Blair, Country Managing Director, Accenture in Ireland said: “Accenture is delighted to be a founding partner of the Open Doors initiative. Within this rapidly changing digital world, and as Ireland’s economy continues to grow, the skills and talent agenda is crucial to our growth. Over the coming year, the cross-sector coalition of Government, industry, not- for-profits and academia will look at ways of unlocking pathways to employment to create new opportunities. It is a core element of our Skills to Succeed programme at Accenture, where we leverage our people and digital innovation to help close skills and employment gaps.”

Triona Ferriter, Chief People Officer, AIB Group plc said: “In AIB, we are striving to engender a culture of Diversity and Inclusion in our organisation. Aligned to our values and our purpose, the Open Doors initiative is an exciting opportunity for us to further strengthen our commitment to providing opportunities to all members of the communities within which we operate and supporting these marginalised groups so we can truly build an inclusive workforce.”

Giles Hurley, CEO, Aldi UK & Ireland said: “Diageo and Business in the Community are to be commended for their initiative in launching this project. We are looking forward to working closely with them to ensure that the Open Doors Initiative is a success”.

Frank Gleeson, Region President/CEO Northern Europe, said: “Aramark Northern Europe are delighted to take part in this initiative; it is a great programme with communities and is in line with our own mission, as we focus on enriching and nourishing the lives of millions.”

Petre Sandru, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Ireland, said: “As a significant employer across Ireland, The Coca-Cola Company is proud to be a founding member of Open Doors. Through local projects such as The Coca-Cola Thank You Fund, we have worked with community groups and organisations in all parts of the country on a range of projects aimed at supporting young people and marginalized groups. We are proud of track record in this area and equally welcome the opportunity to share knowledge, best practice, and our experience with industry partners so that we can help more people and create more opportunities in the future.”

Anne Heraty, CEO, Cpl Resources, said: “Cpl are delighted to be involved in the Open Doors Initiative as a founding partner. Our people are passionate about giving back to those less fortunate in society and encouraging inclusivity in the workplace. Open Doors’ vision to open opportunities to those who may currently be marginalized from employment is an important one, especially in a time of full employment. It is terrific to see so many of Ireland’s leading employers coming together to make a difference”.

Pat MCann CEO Dalata Hotel Group said: “We at Dalata are delighted to be a part of this fantastic new initiative. We are committed to giving opportunities and development to those who are in need through tailored training programmes. Through the Open Doors Initiative we will give the new employee an opportunity to upskill in the essential skills required for a successful career in the hospitality industry.”

Niall Browne CEO of Dawn Meats stated “As a family company we recognise the role work plays in enhancing family life and the communities where we operate. . We employ more than 40 different nationalities across the company, offering equality of opportunity through fair and transparent recruitment practises and supported with training to enhance career prospects. We look forward to working with the other Open Doors member companies on this important initiative”.

DeCare Dental Managing Director, Maureen Walsh said: “The team at DeCare is so excited to be a part of the Open Doors Initiative, this initiative will help to mobilise and enable talented people from diverse backgrounds that will help achieve our business goals over the next number of years. Not only will this initiative help business, it will enhance quality of life in Ireland, thereby creating opportunities on many levels.”

George O’Connor, Managing Director, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Ireland: “Enterprise is proud to serve as a founding member of the Open Doors Initiative, facilitated by Business in the Community Ireland. “Our doors are open” is one of Enterprise’s Founding Values and represents our philosophy on operating the best business that we possibly can. Our commitment to being an inclusive company extends to every employee, customer and business partner. It’s also very important to us that we mirror the communities in which we operate. Through this partnership we reaffirm our commitment to providing opportunities to individuals from all backgrounds irrespective of disability, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or social status.”

Ian Anderson, Group Chief Operating Officer, Momentum Support, said: “We are delighted to be one of the founders of the Open Doors Initiative. Momentum Support is committed towards addressing social cohesion and inclusion in Ireland through providing employment to people from all aspects of our diverse society.”

Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) President, Brian Norton said: “DIT is pleased to be part of the Open Doors Initiative. As an education institution, and as an employer, DIT is committed to equality,diversity and inclusion. Building an institution that reflects the diversity of Ireland today is key to addressing the challenges and opportunities of a complex knowledge society.”

Margot Slattery, country President, Sodexo Ireland, said: “As part of Sodexo’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we are already supporting and working with several organisations like One Family, EmployAbility, Seetec, the National Learning Network and Carriglea Cairde Services. We’re looking forward to sharing our learnings and experience with our fellow partners in the Open Doors initiative.”

Danny McCoy, CEO, Ibec, the first supporting partner, said: “Ibec is delighted to participate as a partner in the Open Doors initiative. For marginalised groups who struggle to access the labour market, sustainable initiatives, such as this, to proactively support inclusion and diversity in the workplace are critical.”

Paul Healy, CEO, Skillnet Ireland, said: “Skillnet Ireland and Positive2Work Skillnet are delighted to support the innovative Open Door Initiative with Diageo. Through its focus on skills development and integrated approach with employers the Open Door Initiative will enable many talented individuals participate in the workforce. This collaborative approach from many different industries working together will offer greater access to employment while also building a sustainable and diverse talent pipeline for our economy.”

Joan O’Donnell, Employment Specialist with DFI said: “The Disability Federation of Ireland is proud to be a supporting partner in the Open Doors initiative. We embrace the opportunity to work alongside industry to ensure that people with disabilities are given the opportunity to contribute their skills to the labour force. We welcome the opportunity to work with industry to create a genuinely inclusive society that serves all.”

Brian Killoran, Chief Executive Officer of the Immigrant Council of Ireland added: “Migration continues to be a success story for Ireland and all of its people. Those who have chosen to make Ireland their new home bring with them experience, perspective and talent that enriches our society in countless ways. The Immigrant Council of Ireland is delighted to be a partner on this highly innovative and exciting initiative. The companies involved in this initiative are showing leadership and vision, and are to be commended for their willingness and enthusiasm to open their doors.”

Visit the Open Door Initiative website: www.opendoorsinitiative.ie

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