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Disability is a greater obstacle for companies than being a woman

  • By María José López, Envera's Digital Transformation Coordinator

In Corresponsables

Madrid | March 8, 2022

"Life is not easy for anyone. But so what! You have to persevere and, above all, have confidence in yourself. You have to feel gifted to do something, and you have to achieve it, whatever the cost". This reflection by the great Marie Curie, an exceptional role model on this special day dedicated to working women, is my inspiration and also teaches us what Envera's motto has been shouting for 45 years: "We can all be the best at something", regardless of our gender or our physical, sensory or intellectual characteristics.

At 64 years of age, and after a 31-year career at Envera, where I have been able to manage without any problem a qualified team of six people, all of them with different physical and sensory abilities, I have no doubt that disability is a bigger obstacle for companies than gender.

When I finished my training and, after taking a specialization course offered by the Marsans Group at the time to work in travel agencies, I found that no matter how many resumes I sent, none of them selected me in spite of the very good words they gave me. They looked at my right arm affected by poliomyelitis since I was 3 years old and refused to allow me to work in front of the public. These companies didn't care that I was a woman, they were put off by my disability. I suppose if the disease had attacked my legs and they were not visible behind a table while sitting in front of a customer, maybe I would have been more fortunate.

The truth is that at home, my mother never treated me differently from my siblings and if we had to make the beds, we all made them, and who says beds says anything; the same as at school, where the nuns never gave me special treatment or exempted me from doing gymnastics or any other activity or game, so I grew up without feeling that I was different and that my arm without strength was part of my own nature, just like that.

I got a job in February 1991 at the Envera special employment center, when the repeated veto in the ordinary company prevented me from choosing another path. And since 1992, and after carrying out very different functions, I lead a document management team within the Digital Transformation Area, which currently ensures that 110,000 passengers - before the pandemic this figure was 180,000 - can fly every month on Iberia aircraft and on the flights it operates, reservations that we manage through the Resiber, Amadeus and Codeshare systems, and which are rejected because they contain some error at source. For example, time changes, misplaced names, groups that are separated, travel with pets, discrepancies with other lines operated, duplicity of reservations, warnings for meals on board... It is a paradox of life that my job is to correct so many times the mistakes of the companies that did not want me.

I feel very satisfied with myself because I have been able to move forward a technical and highly qualified department, with five women and one man, all with physical or sensory disabilities, in which we develop a job that requires a lot of memory and concentration. We are people with disabilities, but there are people who are not visually impaired or have a certificate, and maybe they are less capable than me and have fewer skills and aptitudes to perform this function.

I have never suffered a pay gap or any other discrimination with respect to my male colleagues. However, it is very important for me to celebrate this International Working Women's Day because it highlights the value of much effort and sacrifice, effort that should be recognized not only one day a year, but every day, to achieve the equality enshrined in our laws and common sense. Equal regardless of gender, but also of physical, intellectual or sensory characteristics.

Undoubtedly, training and the desire to improve must guide women, we must prepare ourselves as they do and, honestly, I must say that I never felt at a disadvantage with respect to the men I have met in my professional career.

Today, when I look back after such a long life of work and at the gates of my retirement, I know that there is no more important lesson than Curie's, with which I began these lines: perseverance, self-confidence and determination to achieve the goal. Let neither disability nor the fact of being a woman hold us back. Nor should they be a fatal prejudice for those companies whose strength is wasted talking about attracting talent.

We must look to the present and the future with the illusion of a new challenge that now for me, in this final stretch of my working life, is none other than to live day by day and enjoy what really matters with that extraordinary feeling of being super happy with myself.