On October 19th, the 2021 Schaeffler Greater China Supplier Conference was held in Xiangtan. Simon Chen, the production manager of Inclusion Factory, attended the conference.

▲On the left: Simon Chen, the production manager of Inclusion Factory
On the right: Daniel Weber, Chief Operations & SCM Officer Greater China at Schaeffler Greater China

At this meeting, Inclusion Factory won the Schaeffler Social Responsibility Award. As a supplier, it is our highest honour to be able to have earned Schaeffler’s trust and affirmation.

This year is the fourth year of cooperation between Inclusion Factory and Schaeffler. So far, we have produced a total of 8,338,071 parts for Schaeffler. This project has directly enabled us to hire seven employees with intellectual disabilities.

As a leading global supplier of automotive and industrial products, the Schaeffler Group is committed to building a sustainable supply chain. They have thousands of suppliers around the world and provide production materials and services to more than 70 factories in 50 countries around the world. Schaeffler’s advanced business philosophy, well-developed system, strong sense of innovation and excellent corporate culture makes them an inspiration to their partners and suppliers. We are very proud to have such a partner. We are always grateful for this win-win platform as it allows us to advance with confidence.


The long-term cooperation between Schaeffler and Inclusion Factory has promoted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through responsible production, creating decent work positions, and empowering people with intellectual disabilities to use their own labour, leading to no poverty and equal, effective participation in society.

In the future, Inclusion Factory will uphold the principles of providing customers with high-quality products and services, creating value for customers and working hand in hand with customers to promote the integration and employment of people with disabilities.

Translation is supported by Inktale Shanghai.

On September 14, 2021, the 5th Sustainable Business Awards Ceremony initiated by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China was held in Shanghai. Inclusion Factory won the “Sustainable Business Award” for its outstanding development in the field of corporate diversity and inclusiveness. General Manager of Inclusion Factory, Nadav Ben Simon attended the award ceremony.

▲On the right is Nadav Ben Simon, General Manager of Inclusion Factory.

2021 is a turning point in the cause of sustainable development. More and more companies are realizing the importance of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and building a sustainable business model for the future development of enterprises. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China has always emphasized fulfilling corporate social responsibility in a strategic and innovative way to achieve sustainable corporate development.

The application for the sustainable development award includes five categories: Advanced Performer in Decarbonisation; Navigating Diversity and Inclusion; Outstanding Environmental Performance; Pioneer in Advancing Rural Revitalisation; and Resilient Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure Leader.

Since its establishment, Inclusion Factory has always taken promoting the integration and employment of people with intellectual disabilities as its corporate mission. So far, we have created 70 decent jobs for people with disabilities. Among them, 37 people with intellectual disabilities are directly employed by Inclusion Factory, and the remaining 33 are hired by other companies with the support and help of Inclusion Advisory.

Inclusion Factory has been actively promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We believe that more companies will integrate the concept of sustainable development and innovative spirit into their strategy in the future. We also hope that more companies and social organizations will promote the integration of people with intellectual disabilities into employment so that people with intellectual disabilities can realize their own social values.

Translation is supported by Inktale Shanghai

For the last 6 months, Inclusion Factory management and our branding partner JungleFish have been working on updating and consolidation the branding for Inclusion Factory. 

While most clients might barely notice the changes, we want to explain the reasons for this step and how it can help us grow.

Formulate the Brand DNA

Everyone has a slightly different understanding about the company/brand they work for. However, to help unify this brand perception and to align on the fundamentals of the brand we needed to identify our brand’s DNA and the core elements, that make this brand unique.

Brand DNA

China Pioneer

Inclusion Factory is one of the first private companies in China that stands at the forefront of a social movement for inclusion. Other than foreign NGOs, the Taicang Inclusion Factory is a wholly Chinese enterprise and firmly rooted in China.

Business-minded

While we subscribe to a higher social purpose, our approach is business-like: we aim to understand our customers and deliver state-of-the-art quality in consulting and production. Other than state-run entities with the objective to facilitate inclusion, the Inclusion Factory is also a working enterprise that has to “earn its keep” – this helps us to better understand our clients. We adhere to industry-standards such as ISO 9002 and employ professional tools and methods such as SAP software and international management principles.

German roots

Founded by a group of German businesspeople, the Inclusion Factory is heavily influenced by a practical and solution-oriented mind-set. While the Inclusion Factory now serves multinational and domestic clients, the German flag colors in our brand identity remind us of our origins.

Better integrate and explain the expanded service offer

Since 2016 Inclusion Factory expanded their scope considerably: in addition to the Inclusion Factory workshop that provides assembly for industrial clients, the Inclusion Advisory (IA) offers consulting services to businesses for inclusion related topics and the Social Inclusion Academy (SIA) conducts seminars & workshop with the goal of educating professionals & the wider society. When these “business units” started in 2017 and 2018 we added logos to identify them but there was no guideline for the whole offering.

One of the key objectives of this branding was therefore, to define how this wider offering can be integrated in all corporate and marketing communication.

The most crucial step before going into design is to define the message: we needed first to understand the offering and then to define it verbally in both Chinese and English. The same tone of voice should be used when introducing one or more of the Inclusion Group entities. This task is of utmost importance. In our past work we found that many times, messaging was recreated each time for a new publication. Different versions co-existed, and it was up to the presenter which one they preferred. The result was work overload and miscommunication. 

With the new branding, we now introduce a clear messaging guideline, as well as a shared motto and objective. This avoids prevents confusion for both, clients and internal team and helps to establish the Inclusion Factory as a brand.

Simpler and clearer messaging and design

Apart from the consolidated messaging we also cleaned the house visually: the color blocks, which were a signature design element in past communication materials are gone as their playfulness conflicted with the increased professionalism of the organization.

Instead of managing 5+ colors, we have only to consider 2 now: a friendly muted green tone and a strong warm gray. This change makes a huge difference in perception, possibly bigger than changing the logo(s) would have made.

Say it with confidence

The typographic concept underwent a major change: a new corporate font with more confidence and character expresses the solidified standing of Inclusion Factory.  

The typesetting is, in general, much larger to highlight the message and also to make texts easier to read for people with visual impairment. On business cards, for example, the names are now set in 15pt font size compared to 8pt font size. Similar changes have been made to our presentation and website.

Growing pains

Changing a company’s branding is never easy and often is met with considerable resistance. New templates must be installed, new rules observed. And why? Because somebody didn’t like a specific color or font? Ideally the new branding not only better reflects who this company now is, but also makes it easier for the company to do business, and to convey its messages.

With the clear and confident communication of the integrated offering, Inclusion Factory can reach more potential clients and bring more People with Disabilities into the labor market.

 

This project is funded by

with design support by

Inclusion Factory successfully obtained the China Social Enterprise Certification, and now we can proudly say that we are a Social Enterprise!

Our company went through a comprehensive assessment consisting of four dimensions: social mission, social stakeholders, value creation, profit distribution, and sustainable development.We reached a high score of 393, which granted us the title of “Excellent Social Enterprise of China”.

 

What is a Social Enterprise?

A social enterprise is a business that aims at solving social issues, such as poverty alleviation, environmental protection, and creating employment opportunities for marginalized groups. The social mission of Inclusion Factory is using employment to promote the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities into the society. The profi earned by social enterprises are used to develop their own business in order to maximize their social influence. Their goal is not to maximize the interests of shareholders.

We often use the “Double bottom line” (fiscal performance, positive social impact) to illustrate the unique value of social enterprises. The relationship between the double bottom line is actually a positive feedback loop. Unlike general social services, social enterprises need to have a clear business model to maintain their operations. At the same time, unlike conventional enterprises, the social objectives of social enterprises are the driving force behind their sustainable development. Therefore, “social objective”and “business model” are indispensable elements for a social enterprise.

 

Background of The Social Enterprise Certification

The Social Enterprise Certification which started its operation in 2015, originated from the China Charity Social Enterprise Certification Centre. It is the first non-governmental and industry-based social enterprise certification organization in China. China Social Enterprise Certification Centre (CSECC) was responsible for the implementation of the specific evaluation. As of January 2020, 283 social enterprises have been identified by them, covering 16 fields, including accessibility services, education, and employment for marginalized groups.

 

Thriving for  “Gold Standard Social Enterprise”

Next step, we will continue to perfect the company’s self-management system, create more and more employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, increase the quality of our service for our customers, and reach for the “Gold Standard Social Enterprise” title!

 

Translation is supported by Inktale Shanghai
Reference material :A Practical Guide of Setting Up a Social Enterprise

Echoing the key tasks set out in the State Council’s 14th Five-Year Plan for the Protection and Development of the Disabled. “Helping people with disabilities live better and more dignified lives through productive labour.”

On July 15th and 19th, the ‘2021 Annual On-site Training for Persons with Disabilities program was held at the Inclusion Factory’. This program was hosted by the Civil Affairs Bureau of Taicang, co-hosted by the Taicang Disabled Person’s Federation and undertaken by the Taicang Xincheng Social Work Service Agency.

30 front-line social workers from Taicang attended this program. They have deepened their understanding of equal employment for people with intellectual disabilities by attending interactive workshops, sharing personal opinions and group discussions.

Our next step is to launch a series of career empowerment seminars on different employment models, personal development and incentive methods for employees with intellectual disabilities, and partner and stakeholder management.

This is the first time that we have provided training for the local workers of the Disabled Person’s Federation. Our Inclusive Employment Model origins in Germany, and rooted in China. In the future, we hope that we can share our philosophy and experience with even more enterprises, and together, we can advance the social integration of persons with disabilities in China.

 

Translation is supported by Inktale Shanghai

On July 9th, 2021, the second session of the Inclusion Open Day was successfully held at the Inclusion Factory.

This Open Day event was planned for the family group  members of the Inclusion China Network, which is part of the Beijing Geng Foundation, an organisation that endeavours to help people with disabilities. Through a day of on-site exploration and discussion, they learned about Inclusion Factory’s experience in the field of inclusive employment. Our aim was to facilitate inclusive employment in their respective fields.

During the Open Day, we had the honour to invite the head of Inclusion China Network and 11 of their representatives to Taicang.These experts in the field of intellectual disabilities come from many different cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hubei, Zhejiang, Ningxia and Anhui. We also invited the families of employees of the Inclusion Factory to exchange ideas with the participants.

 

Into the Inclusion Factory

We led everyone through our factory and introduced various partners as well as their contributions. They are the reason we are here today.

Then everyone learned about our SAP Intelligent Shift Management System and its application to the employment of people with intellectual disabilities. This system helps us solve many pain points in the operation of our factory and helps our employees increase efficiency.

The participants observed the production line up closely, watching the workers carefully assembling on the work platform. They admitted that it was quite different from what they had imagined. Looking at the employees so focused on work, the Open Day participants were all deeply touched.

A Common Goal in Taicang

Wangli, Program Development Manager of Inclusion Factory, showed everyone the application of Work Redesign. She emphasized that what we want to change is not the employees, but the work itself.What’s hard is not work but to change one’s mindset to redesign work.

In the group discussion session, everyone spoke freely and were so focused on learning from each other that they almost missed lunch time.

Q1: How is work being redesigned for people with intellectual disabilities in the bakery?

Mr Dong Feng, chairman of the Inclusion China Project Management Committee: For the bakery project, the employees may not be able to adapt to the taste of the fermentation process. Therefore, we need to transform the facilities. In the ingredient’s preparation process, the measuring cups are modified so that employees can achieve operability.

In addition, we work on accessibility hardware facilities, visual prompt systems, employment counsellors, R&D and transformation of equipment tools, assembly line hygiene, and more.

 

Q2: How can we design a 3-5-year growth plan for employees with intellectual disabilities to help them get employed by the mainstream workplace?

Zhuo Qu, Beijing Rongai Rongle Supportive Employment Project Manager: There is a process of four steps. Start by leaving the house, then attending handcrafting workshops, thirdly trying out integration workplace, and finally mainstream inclusive employment.

In the integration workplace, the working abilities of employees are improved while their professional literacy is enhanced through communication, collaboration, and self-management. At the same time, the collaborative help of enterprises, institutions and parent organizations is needed so that employees have a sense of autonomy to achieve self-advocacy.

 

How would you design it if it were you?

 

The Past and Future of the Inclusion Factory

At the forum in the afternoon, Marina, Director of Training and Development at Inclusion Factory, narrated how the project is completed practically, step by step, from start to finish so that participants could gain an in-depth understanding of our development history, employment situation, accessibility facilities and equipment as well as the operation model.

In the exchange, everyone gained new understanding, ideas and inspirations. It has created new possibilities for the inclusive employment of people with disabilities.

 

Family Group Exchange

 

Finally, Fei Liu, head of the Inclusion China parents’ group, shared with the families of several key employees of the Inclusion Factory the activities and experiences of parents in organising past activities. Through the exchange, the families learned the importance of family support groups, how they brought together families of different people with intellectual disabilities and enabled them to help each other grow together.

After the event, many of those who attended posted pictures on their WeChat Moments and wrote:

We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to realize their abilities,and to live a full participatory life.We look forward to seeing you next time.

 

Translation is supported by Inktale Shanghai

On June 30th, Inclusion Factory held a Disability Equality Awareness Workshop to promote awareness on the integration of the people with disabilities in various cities and industries.  

12 integration promoters gathered in Taicang. They come from as far west as Xinjiang, as far north as Qingdao, and as far east as Shanghai. The farthest participants came from Urumqi, 2,485 miles away.

Some of them are from enterprises preparing to launch disability inclusion groups to integrate the concept of disability inclusion into their corporate culture. Some are from social enterprises that use disability-focused communication methods to serve their clients and enhance the service level for employees with disabilities.

In the workshop, we reflected on the relationship between each person and person with disability.  

What different experiences do persons with disabilities have in transitional, medical, and social model?

What is the mechanism behind this difference? How can we break this impasse?

If you are to design an accessible restaurant, what elements would you put in as the owner?

When it comes to an inclusive society, what changes do we need to make? Everyone thought deeply about these questions.

After a fruitful discussion, now let’s look at the practical side. From idea to action, this is the commitment made to the disability integration by our participants today.

• Equal treatment instead of overtly specialised treatment.

• Remove barriers to people with disabilities in the work environment.

• Acquire more knowledge to help identify and solve the problems of persons with disabilities around them.

• Gather more resources, join hands with the public to gradually optimise the environment for disability integration.

 

Translation is supported by Inktale Shanghai
Our understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is seeing business corporations take social responsibility, for example in protecting the environment and helping the poor and disabled.However, many companies view social responsibility as charity activities and similar projects. These activities and projects are often conducted like a pulse – one time activity with no follow-up. It is difficult to have sustainable impact this way.
Here is one story that exemplifies this.A school in a remote and poor village in the west of China was donated over 1 million yuan by various corporations in order to build many new facilities.   However, no efforts or focus is given to the maintenance over time of these projects so after a while they start deteriorating.Many companies swarm to remote areas, donating money to build schools, seeing it as a branding move. Yet they very rarely consider the long-run considerations, or the real needs of the recipients and the sustainability of their activities.

I ponder over a question frequently. Does CSR equate with doing charity? At last, I found the answer at Alfmeier.

We met Mr. Markus Schwarz, Executive Vice President of Alfmeier Automotive Systems Shanghai, in 2017. Mr. Schwarz was given a tour of our company Inclusion Factory, where he saw more than 30 employees with intellectual disabilities working on processing products in a special workshop. He decided to embark on a CSR partnership with us and outsourced orders to the Inclusion Factory.

Mr. Schwarz then gathered the management team of his company, and they agreed to outsource a certain component in their product for car seats to the Inclusion Factory, so as to support the employment of persons with disabilities.
Due to the special needs of our employees, the manufacturing equipment has to be somewhat automated in order to ensure a smooth and high-efficiency production. For this, Alfmeier formed an international team and provided us with a modified assembly equipment is suitable for our capabilities, and ensures and quality performance.
The team, which was comprised of project managers, internal auditor, and senior quality engineers, were all fully engaged and highly motivated.  With the help of their headquarters in Germany, the team finished the design for the machine provided to us, and shipped it specially from Europe for our new cooperation!  The team members worked together, and overcame the challenges of being in different locations and different time zones. Finally, the equipment was put into operation at the Inclusion Factory in February 2019.
That is why, to me, CSR is neither a checklist of activities nor a set of guidelines. It is most definitely not something that corporations have to accomplish by sacrificing themselves. Rather, CSR is a corporation using its core capabilities to resolve social problems and give everyone the ability to create social values.Many ask, “Should corporations have projects for social responsibility?” In the past, I would show the person asking this question the numerous benefits of fulfilling CSR, but now I answer them with my question, “Do corporations need the human resource and finance departments?”And as corporations surely need human resource and finance, so does CSR should be a part of their daily operations. In fact, CSR is not as complicated as many people would think. We should look at the core capability of a company and see how it can be used to solve the problems in society. Solving a society’s problems is being socially responsible.

Alfmeier Automotive Systems Shanghai was awarded the Taicang Inclusion Factory  Corporate Social Responsibility prize

On the left, Mr. Markus Schwarz, Executive Vice President of Alfmeier Automotive Systems Shanghai – receiving the Inclusion Factory Gold Partner certificate from the Inclusion Factory Chairman of the Board Mr. Thilo Koeppe and Peng Xin, the Inclusion Factory employee working on the Alfmeier project

Alfmeier has now established “social responsibility” as one of its strategies and has committed to engage in more CSR projects in the future.Alfmeier CSR engagement shows us that CSR can and should be part of every corporation daily work and commitments.

Writer:Fores

 

The following article was written by Inclusion Factory’s Board Member and initiator, Mr. Erik Breslein, Managing Director of Zollner Electronics Taicang, and was published in Zollner’s Group Global newsletter.

Erik Breslein

An appeal for social engagement from Erik Breslein, Managing Director of Zollner China. In spite of some resistance, he helped create the Taicang Inclusion Factory, a workplace for People with Intellectual Disabilities. It has been emulated in the meantime.

Dear Readers,

I thought about this for a long time, how I should write such an article: the story of the founding of a workplace for People with Intellectual Disabilities
in China, the first one ever in the country. Eventually I decided not to write technologically and factual for a change and share with you my personal experiences. Why? I’ll tell you at the end of this article.

The Idea

 

Thilo and I have known each other for many years. He was the Chairman of the “TRT Taicang Roundtable”, where German Managing Directors met with the Taicang City Government once a month for an exchange. In 2014, Thilo and I went to dinner after such a meeting, and somehow we both, independent of each other, had had an idea in our heads to found a workplace for People with Disabilities in Taicang.
Both of us had our points of contact with social institutions in our youth. For me it was through an earlier female friend with the Theodor Fliedner charitable foundation in Mülheim an der Ruhr. She was a caregiver there for residential homes for
People with Disabilities. How beautiful was the merrymaking together…

And now?

 

An idea alone is known to be not enough, so Thilo said: “Let’s strew the topic out at the TRT Roundtable, maybe someone wants to join us.” No sooner said than done, we quickly became five. Then came weeks of hours-long meetings together until we had something of a common thread in our first concept
draft. One thing became pretty clear at the beginning: without the support of the local Chinese authorities, we could never pull off such a project.

The path to the Mayor and the Chinese Communist Party

“What do they want…?” was the first response of party officials. Jesicar, a General Manager of a German company in Taicang, and a member of our team, had her hands full as the only Chinese person to impart our idea. But somehow, after several hours-long meetings, the knot broke and the whole thing took off.

They put us into contact with the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF). There are about 85 million People with Disabilities in China, including, for example, someone who has just 50 percent vision in one eye. Just about 12 percent of these people actually have physical impairments because they need to sit in a wheelchair or require walking aids.

The founding…but where to find the start capital?

The government gave its green light, so nothing else stood in the way of founding the company. The five of us created a so-called Limited company in 2015 with all of us as volunteer members of the Board of Directors. We voted Thilo to be the Chairman of the Board.

But the challenge to source capital was giving us headaches. Jesicar, however, managed to get a subsidy from the Taicang government. Thilo entered into negotiations with KfW Germany to obtain credit worth over 1.7 million Euros. We each took on part of the work, Jesicar and Thilo fought on the legal and financial fronts, while Dietmar and I focused on the setup of production. Steve came in later, and took on training issues and integrated People with Disabilities
into his own company.

 

Inclusion Factory Board Members

Who is the leader?

 

All of us do the job of Member of the Board of Directors on a volunteer basis and without compensation outside of our normal job activities.
So we knew we needed external help for further development of the workplace for the handicapped.
Through an abundance of luck we found Nadav, whose wife studied in Beijing at the time. He was given the post of General Manager, and soon after, Marina, Nadav’s wife, a social worker with vast experience working with People with special needs also joined the team.

Like the rest of our employees, they receive customary market rates of pay. Our employees receive the same monthly wage as do Zollner Taicang employees in accordance with statutory provision and the market average.
We also profited immensely from the experience of Lebenshilfe e. V. in Offenburg. Achim, the Managing Director there, placed some of his employees, who
spent half a year in Taicang and trained Nadav and his team in how to work with People with Intellectual Disabilities.

Inclusion Factory 2015

 

Inclusion Factory 2020

 

And today…

 

…The Taicang Inclusion Factory stands on solid economic ground, thanks in the meantime to donations from fellow Chinese citizens.
Since Head of State Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, called for promotion of cooperation for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities about three years ago, the Taicang Inclusion Factory is seen as a showcase project in the entire country. Thus, just a short time ago, another workplace for the People with Intellectual Disabilities
was founded in its image by by Flex (formally Flextronics) in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.

Flex Mechanical Inclusive Factory in Zhuhai

 

We give about 50 employees a ‘home’, were they able to be awarded several contracts from companies and have also achieved the same level of function and technology as every other international company.

Inclusion Factory Team, 6 years ago.

 

Inclusion Factory Team, 2020

The Corona crisis affected us, too, but I believe we’ll come out of it with just black eye. It was hard for our employees not to be allowed to work during the lock down. The urge was great to once again take up a screwdriver together. Luckily we were able to resume regular operations again in May of 2020.

From my experience with this project I would like to encourage you all:

“Come together and do something good, even when it’s only a small thing!” It makes no difference whether you are engaged in a sports club or volunteer firefighting, or even taking over the weekly shopping for the sweet grandma across the street or something else.

A lifetime’s experience

 

I will be honest, we Directors reached in all phases of setting up of the workplace for the People with Disabilities places where we didn’t have a clue how to continue. Some hurdles seemed too high, and doing it in a foreign country. However: We did it! Together – because we stayed together!

And that is my message: If each and every one of us contributes just a small amount, it is the big picture that counts in the end.