In the second part of the National Forum of Socially Responsible Employers, held on 15 November in Sofia, a discussion on the topic of the political aspects, best practices and solutions from Bulgaria and Europe took place, with the participation of representatives of the corporate sector, social enterprises, NGOs, Ministries, state institutions and others. Representatives of NASOR – members of the team of the project “Building a Socially Responsible Business Environment” with the support of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, within the framework of which the National Forum is implemented, presented an Analysis of the implementation of the Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy for the period 2019-2023.
The moderator of the panel was Evelina Van Mensel – Lecturer in Social Entrepreneurship at the American University in Bulgaria, who is currently also a PhD candidate in Social Entrepreneurship at the Free University of Brussels.
Representatives of CSR – Innovative Solutions, Norway, who are partners in the project, presented to the audience good examples of CSR development and regulation policies in Norway.
Participating in the panel discussion with presentation and introduction were:
Kalin Gaidadzhiev, McDonald’s Bulgaria, told how an employer provides equal opportunities for all people, regardless of their differences. The company’s representative office in Bulgaria is a long-standing partner of NASOR, providing employment to 45 persons with disabilities.
Gergana Boneva, from Japan Tobacco International, who presented the activities of the Japanese giant in the field of CSR,
the care they take for their employees and stressed the importance for companies to partner sustainably and in the long term with NGOs. Gergana presented the different socially oriented projects that JTI is working on and the motivating practices that they apply in order for the company to be a good example for their employees and pass them on.
Yoana Koleva, who is the co-founder of the career opportunities hub Jamba, presented the mission of the organization and focused on how this type of organization functions, why it is important for people with disabilities to meet with representatives of the corporate sector. Joanna emphasised that it is vital that people with different abilities are supported and given the opportunity for training and subsequent career development and integration.
Denitsa Sotirova, representative of Yettel Bulgaria, head of the “Side by Side” programme, inspired the audience by presenting the idea of the programme, which is continuing for the ninth year in a row in Bulgaria. “Shoulder to Shoulder” provides employment opportunities for disadvantaged people, and after the program period, employees have a real opportunity to stay and continue their career path in the company. Each participant in the program has a personal mentor, psychological support from our corporate psychologist, as well as specialized induction into the work process.
Ilko Iliev is manager of furniture company “Mebel Style”. He is also a member of the Association. Mr. Iliev presented the activities of his company and shared about its social commitment. “Mebel Style” is a company with 30 years of experience, which provides employment to disadvantaged people, as well as partners with various educational institutions.
Leoni Bulgaria, representatives of the industrial business in Northern Bulgaria, manufacturer and supplier of cable installations in the automotive industry, presented the presentation “The factory: a place with opportunities for people with different abilities”. Maria Todorova, the representative of the company, shared with the guests statistical data related to the employment of people with different abilities, and it was impressive for the participants in the forum to hear that the company employs 132 people with different abilities. With this fact, Leoni ranks as the leading employer in the country providing employment to people with disabilities in Bulgaria.
Gena Sabeva, entrepreneur and mentor, gave an interesting presentation on different innovative
and social investment opportunities: collective investment in social enterprises and social impact projects.
Liya Petkova, who is the co-founder of the small family business MairaOils, inspired everyone with the story of how a business idea can become a “cure” for dealing with complex situations.