ECOLIGHT walked into the year 2019 with high spirits and bags full of optimism. The company has just won the annual award for the most socially responsible company in Kaunas region. The award ceremony took place on the 13th of December 2018, and was co-hosted by Kaunas region municipality and Kaunas chamber of commerce, industry and crafts. The award commission decided that no other company in the region had done more for the social betterment of disadvantaged people in 2018 than ECOLIGHT.
Employer of People with Disabilities
Now, a quick reminder to those readers who aren’t familiar with our organization: since 2011, ECOLIGHT has been operating as a social enterprise. As a company with a status of a social enterprise, we are committed to employing people with disabilities. As of the moment of writing, sixty percent of ECOLIGHT employees are people with various degrees of disability.
“Being recognized as the most socially responsible company in the region is a real milestone for our young company,” says Mr. Tomas Pukas, the CEO of ECOLIGHT, “The award celebrates our continuous effort to strengthen our local community by employing disadvantaged individuals who often face discrimination elsewhere.”
Mr. Pukas was quick to emphasize, however, that a mere fact of employing people with disabilities should not give any company a sense of entitlement. What matters is how you operate on a daily basis to empower your employees. And this is where ECOLIGHT aims to be a standard-setter.
All ECOLIGHT workplace facilities are adjusted for people with physical disabilities. The company is also employing LEAN methodology to improve working conditions for each member of our workforce. Workplace improvements that are continuously implemented in the factory floor depend to no small extent on the specific physical limitations that are unique to different individuals. This way every employee is empowered to do his or her best work, which subsequently translates to better results of overall factory productivity and higher employee salaries.
Another important sphere of social responsibility is the inclusion of employees in the process of decision-making. Many scientific studies have shown that people with disabilities are more prone to depression, they show less initiative, and are less inclined to offer their perspective on issues. Therefore, it is important to take pro-active measures to encourage people with disabilities to speak their mind, and offer their insights on how processes can improved. To this end, a few years ago ECOLIGHT introduced the KAIZEN system which encourages employees to participate in generating new ideas regarding work organization and process optimization. For every implemented idea employees receive financial bonuses.
Social responsibility does not begin at 8.00 am, and it doesn’t end at 17.00 pm. “Our factory is located in a tiny provincial town of Lithuania, which means that people don’t have a lot of options for quality leisure time: no cinema theatres, no concert halls, no good-quality gyms,” explains Mr. Pukas, “Having a physical disability narrows your options even further”.
To improve the social life of employees, ECOLIGHT offers a range of activities than can be grouped in three different brackets: internal events (team-building parties and events), opt-in activities (basketball tournaments, swimming pool, etc.), trainings and travelling (around Lithuania and to foreign countries).
Employees are especially thrilled about visiting other countries where they also meet up with the company’s client companies and their employees. The benefits of these journeys cannot be reduced to the typical pleasures of tourism. It’s also about realizing that people in different countries are very appreciative of the product we produce back home, it gives our employees a new sense of purpose.
In the words of Mr. Pukas, “Winning a social responsibility award was a great symbolic achievement for us, but we must not sleep on our laurels.”
ECOLIGHT has recently started the construction of two new buildings: a luminaire testing laboratory, and a new aluminium workshop. The company’s management has made it a top priority to making sure these buildings meet the state-of-the-art standards for accessibility to disabled and physically handicapped employees and visitors.
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