In the European Union, only 50.8% of persons with disabilities are in employment, compared to 74.8% for persons without disabilities, and those who find employment often work in sheltered workshops where they are not protected by labour laws. Uta Deutschländer has made it her personal mission to increase the employment and equal treatment of people with disabilities in the open labour market. Employment in the open labour market means that people with disabilities work alongside people without disabilities, where they receive the same pay, the same social security and training as their fellow colleagues. This is exactly what inclusive enterprises do, employing between 30% to 80% of employees with disabilities in their team alongside employees without disabilities, and offering the same labour rights and perspectives to all their staff. This form of employment conforms with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.
For over 25 years Uta has worked for Alexianer GmbH, where she has been instrumental in setting up Alexianer Textilpflege GmbH in 2004, an inclusive enterprise with over 180 employees, where she has been the CEO for over 10 years. Uta’s dedication to this cause was inspired through her work at Alexianer GmbH, where she started her journey in the human resource department of the organisation in 1995. Over the years, through working in different parts of the organisation with various projects, from sheltered workshops to housing, Uta became more passionate about disability rights and began to recognise the potential of inclusive enterprises as a model for the future. A future that is inclusive and offers equal opportunities.
“Equal rights for persons with disabilities are a matter of my heart”
– Uta Deutschländer –
Uta strongly believes in the need of raising visibility of the potential of inclusive enterprises in the wider social economy sector, but also within a strong European network that advocates for the inclusive employment of persons with disabilities across Europe. For this reason Uta is involved at the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Inklusionsfirmen (bag if), the national network for inclusive enterprises in Germany, where she is responsible for European Affairs, and has been in the board of EuCIE – the European Confederation of Inclusive Enterprises since its ideation in 2017, of which she is since 2021 the president. In the little spare time she has left, Uta works as a scuba diver instructor for persons with disabilities, as well as the Coordinator of Equestrian Sports at the Special Olympics.
Without doubt, Uta is driven by her vision of a society that ensures the inclusion and equal treatment of persons with disabilities in Germany and across Europe. Uta regards her work as multidimensional and cross-sectoral to ensure persons with disabilities can have educational and career perspectives just as anyone else. For this reason, Uta works hard to educate the wider society on re-thinking the way they think about business and employment of people with disabilities.
We are excited to follow Uta’s path towards a more socially inclusive and just Europe and are delighted to have her named as one of the Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise 2022.
1.European Parliamentary Research Service, Employment and disability in the European Union, May 2020, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2020/651932/EPRS_BRI(2020)651932_EN.pdf
2. EuCie, 2022, https://www.eucie.org