Job search stability is no longer a leading factor. It has been superseded by social impact and employer engagement, data from this year’s Edelman Trust Institute survey of global business trust and reliability show. The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer draws its conclusions from 30-minute online interviews conducted between November 1 and November 28, 2022, among more than 32,000 people in 28 countries.

“The acceptance of business as ethical leads to higher expectations for CEOs to take the lead in discussions of social issues,” notes Richard Edelman, the institute’s CEO. A large number of interviewees also indicated that they would like greater social inclusion of business on topics such as climate change, economic inequality and retraining of employees.

In this context, during the sixth edition of the Employer Branding BG Edition conference , Denitsa Sotirova, HR Business Partner in Yettel Bulgaria, presented the socially responsible program of the company ” Side by Side “. For eight years now, the program has supported people with different abilities to develop professionally, with the principle of diversity and inclusion in the workplace at its core.

” If a team is represented by diverse people, for example by gender, race, affiliation, it has been proven that it is up to 35% more effective ,” said Denitsa Sotirova, head of the program, during her presentation.

” When it comes to those hired under the “Side by Side” program, Yettel Bulgaria is not talking about people with disabilities, but about people with different abilities ,” she emphasizes and notes that the language and words we use are extremely important, so as not to create wrong attitudes and not fall into the trap of prejudice.

Sotirova cites data according to which people with different abilities in our country are nearly half a million of the entire population – 16.1% (474,267 people), and 84.6% of them are economically inactive. The goal of Yettel Bulgaria is to help the data in this statistic go down.

For 8 years, 34 people took part in the “Side by Side” program. They were part of different teams in the company, with 1/3 remaining employed after the program ended. ” Besides professional realization, we support them from the first day to the last within the two years in which they are appointed to a certain position “, notes Sotirova. During their two-year employment, participants receive competitive compensation as well as the company’s full benefits package. Colleagues who continue their professional path outside of Yettel Bulgaria are directed to telecom partners who offer suitable positions, and they also receive support in preparing their professional CV, as well as preparation for a subsequent interview.

The project enables remote work, so it can be used by people from all settlements. For those who choose to be on site in Sofia, an open and accessible work environment is provided. In both cases, the most important thing remains the supportive team of professionals they meet and the friendly atmosphere that gives a feeling of calmness, security and continuity.

“We grow together”

The Side by Side program was launched in 2015 under the name Open Mind. Since 2018, its partner is JAMBA , an organization that works in the sector of people with different abilities and creates conditions for the accumulation of additional skills and competencies in various professional fields through training and internship. In 2019-2020, Yettel Bulgaria also organized an Academy for sharing experience. It gives the participants of the program the opportunity to familiarize themselves with various software and tools for office work.

Approved candidates get real corporate experience – they are appointed to a specific position and work in teams on real projects. Everyone has their own mentor, and can count on psychological support from Yettel Bulgaria’s corporate psychologist. Thus, the participants receive self-awareness training, which adds additional value to the company’s services and products, emphasizes Denitsa Sotirova.

Stages of the program

The Side by Side program follows certain steps. First, the managers in the company submit an application for the position they want to invite a person to. An assessment is made as to whether this position is suitable for people with disabilities. The positions are then advertised through the JAMBA website, usually in September, Sotirova explains. The pre-selection is done by the JAMBA team. Interviews from Yettel Bulgaria follow, and managers in the company are pre-prepared and trained for the meeting with the candidates.

After the selection of the participants, their introduction is done by the manager, mentor and the corporate psychologist. The induction process itself goes through the preparation of the team for the inclusion of the new colleague. This is followed by introducing the person to the Yettel way of working. A session with the corporate psychologist and monthly general meetings with program participants to receive feedback and share experiences are planned

” All stages must be approached responsibly. People’s health is a priority. We had a colleague diagnosed with epilepsy, and the team went through first aid training ,” Denitsa Sotirova gave an example.

Several times a year, managers and mentors gather for a session to share good practices and help each other by exchanging experiences and ideas. Thus, building an inclusive and fair work environment where everyone is encouraged to develop is not just a good idea, but a reality.