Handiwashing or staged diversity

Between marketing and reality, the gap is often significant. For the environmental cause, it is called greenwashing , for disabled people, we speak of handiwashing . This portmanteau word designates companies that buy a brand image by promoting inclusion in their workforce, when few internal measures are actually put in place.

“We are first seen as disabled people before being considered as employees,” says Céline Extenso, co-founder of Dévalideuses , a handi-feminist association. She calls this double-talk of brands “the pornography of inspiration”. “Everywhere we are told about raising awareness about disability, about life lessons or something else. Which is dehumanizing at will. In addition, if we work less than able-bodied people, it is also because we are not given room. ”This is true in business but also in access to studies, the two being closely linked: one in five people (14%) benefiting from the recognition of disabled worker (RQTH) is unemployed, and only 34% of job seekers with disabilities have a level equivalent or higher than the bac, against 36% for the entire population.

Lack of qualified candidates and recourse to subcontracting

To date, companies over 19 employees must have 6% of people with disabilities in their workforce. A law little applied and whose penalties are not very dissuasive, according to the associations. La Dares estimates that in fact the French rate hovers around 3.5%.

Among the companies below the 6% mark, there are Nature and Discoveries . The only company that agreed to respond to 19 Minutes. In 2018, the company hired 1.7% of people with disabilities, explains the firm. Since then, Nature et Découvertes has launched a work-study class to train 7 new salespeople in Ile-de-France as well as a series of actions to try to talk about disability internally or even encourage workers to declare themselves in a situation of handicap if they are.

Measures taken at Nature et Découvertes

The firm currently employs 34 people with disabilities in France, i.e. 3.6% of their total workforce, and continues, in parallel, to appeal to Esats. These establishments or work assistance services are medico-social structures where people with disabilities are paid between 53 to 82% of the minimum wage. To date, approximately 110. 000 workers are divided into 1. 120 Esat in France, according to figures from the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs (Igas ). Importantly, the use of subcontracting with companies in the adapted sector gives the right to a deduction on the Agefiph / Fiphfp contribution. This “tax” sanctions all companies with more than 19 employees who have less than 6% of people with disabilities in their workforce.

Sylvain Delagneau , director of l’Esat Les Robinsons du Plessis-Robinson , tells that this structure does not have for purpose the work but the accompaniment and that “the people who are in Esat have a disability rate that is too high and they would not find jobs outside””. This is also explained by the Igas: “access to Esat is reserved for people not being able, temporarily or permanently, to work in an ordinary company or in an adapted company, or to exercise an independent professional activity, and whose productivity is lower than a third of that of an able-bodied person. »

A complex situation to disentangle

If this system allows people in a situation of disability to work, this type of structure remains criticized by some of the associations. “It remains a paternalistic image where we consider that a disabled person is less than nothing, underlines Céline Extenso. A person can work if their position is suitable. Today, this is clearly not the case. »

The associations also see it as a way of keeping disabled people in precarious situations. This is firmly denied by the director of Esat Les Robinsons du Plessis-Robinson. “You have to understand that in Esat we do not recruit workers, continues Sylvain Delagneau, but people with significant disabilities who are there to move forward in their lives. The Esat are not companies but medico-social support structures. “For the salary, below the minimum wage, the director says he does not have the possibility of paying more but underlines that with the disabled adult allowance (AAH)“ disabled people get to a minimum wage ”. A minimum reached, therefore.

As for brands, they admit to resorting to it for economic reasons but not only. “This allows more flexibility in a context of peak activity,” adds Anne Deneux, HR Director of Nature et Découvertes. We need the Esat on specific tasks such as the packaging of advent calendars or to respond in the negative to applications. In other words, those who see their application refused by Nature et Découvertes receive an email sent by a person in Esat, saying that their profile does not match and that the application is not selected. “We are not going to mobilize a full-time person for that,” adds Anne Deneux. Cruel irony, it is not known whether among the unsuccessful candidates there are people with disabilities.