Welcoming disability into the workplace is everyone’s business

Article written on 28 October 2022
In 2022, Saipol is pushing ahead with its disability policy launched in 2018 by making new commitments related to the agreement signed by the Avril Group. The work environment, time and methods adjust to match the employee's situation: if a company accommodates its reception conditions and acquires tools, it keeps its employees in the workplace.

Anticipate the collective integration of disability so that it is not even an issue! This is the common thread of the strategy put in place by Saipol. It is continuing in 2022 with a commitment plan consisting of six areas of work under an agreement Avril signed with Agefiph. The programme runs until 2024.

What does disability mean in businesses ? “Disability corresponds to a situation in which the working environment is not adapted to an employee’s situation,” answers Éloïse Avenel, head of talent management at Saipol. “It is the conjunction between a condition and a work environment that has to be considered.” It can be either a visible or invisible, an innate or acquired disability : “80% of disabilities are not visible and 75% of people with disabilities became disabled as adults,” adds Éloïse Avenel. “The challenge is therefore to take into account the disability situations that may arise during the professional life of employees.

With this strategic plan, the primary objective of Saipol, like that of the other Avril subsidiaries, is to prevent an employee from drifting away from the world of work due to the lack of appropriate solutions. “Everyone must be in a position to be welcomed and to welcome others,” continues the manager. “Achieving this requires method and anticipation.” This responsiveness implies having mapped the constraints inherent to each workstation in the factory as well as to the support functions. Human resources teams are trained accordingly to then inform the managers about the support offered by the company.

Change employee thinking on disability

In addition to an inventory of the reception conditions, employee awareness of disabilities is an essential point on this roadmap. In 2018, Saipol realised the importance of taking another look at disability so that it becomes everyone’s business. The company has even assigned a resource person to oversee this awareness campaign. This mission is led by Manon Cholet. She has launched immersion campaigns via amusing initiatives and regular signage. For example, the ground marking operation “Trample on clichés” implemented in 2020 in the factories and at head office really “struck home!” On each large sticker, the issue of disability in the workplace is addressed quite openly. “Our operations are built in liaison with the sixth pillar of the Avril group’s Purpose: act for a collective and inclusive project,” conclude Éloise Avenel and Manon Cholet.

The six areas of work of the 2022-2024 Saipol disability action plan

Job retention

Adopt a proactive approach by favouring teamwork

Hiring and integration

Gain visibility among workers seeking employment and promote access for students to the world of work


Professionalise key players to get them on board and meet the needs of employees involved


Organise engaging annual communication to dispel prejudices and foster inclusion


Boost the use of subcontracting with companies in the protected work sector by setting up favourable conditions

Social dialogue

Get staff representatives to buy into Saipol’s disability policy so that they become actors and ambassadors

Actions are carried out at company level for these ambassadors to play an advisory role vis-à-vis employees

“In 2021, 4.8% of Saipol employees were disabled employees, compared to 5.14% in 2020. A declining ratio, following retirements.”

An agreement has been signed with Agefiph. It allows Saipol to benefit from support, in particular to adapt workstations, subject to validation of the measures taken.

Eloïse Avenel
Professionalising HR teams and creating a multidisciplinary committee on each site are essential to support employees with disabilities when they are hired or during their professional life. The objective is to provide the appropriate solutions without delay.”
Éloïse Avenel, Talent management manager, Saipol

The strength of the collective to support the disabled

Saipol’s HR team is part of Agefiph’s network of disability advisors. Since 2018, it has been organising awareness-raising operations as regards disability situations. “Our goal is to raise employee awareness of disability at work and show them the strength of the group so that everyone can fulfil their mission, whatever the constraints,” says Manon Cholet, the HR development manager who organises these events. This was particularly successful with the escape game organised in 2019. Each employee drew a card that attributed a handicap to them and had to solve puzzles under these conditions.

Escape Game Handicap

To succeed in the mission, mutual aid was essential,” she recalls. Another initiative: Saipol’s participation in the 2021 Active Challenge 2021 organised by Agefiph in Le Havre. Orienteering, disability quiz, crossword puzzles, word searches, fill-in-the-blank texts, reading a moving text to understand what a dyslexic person experiences… all these events united the teams.

Photo de Manon CHOLET
We came 7th out of 20, which isn’t so bad for a first participation,” smiles Manon Cholet.
Manon Cholet, In charge of HR development, Saipol