A yogurt company boldly living out Catholic social teaching today
This company that was formed with its priorities backwards.
It was not created to make money, but to provide jobs for otherwise marginalized people. It was founded in the 1980s, and today has 500 employees, some 300 of which have a disability.
And yes, they're still profitable. Its yogurts and dairy products are the most consumed in the area.
[The company] is working because if it didn't work, the social project would collapse. We know that we need to produce margins, we have to make a profit. It is a fact without which the overall project wouldn't be possible.
The company is La Fageda. And it is in the northeast of Spain, in Girona. It was created in the 1980s by psychologist, Cristóbal Colón, after he observed that mental asylums were unable of integrating disabled people into society.
He knew something more had to be done to give them a sense of dignity, which is why he decided to create this company.
Before the business existed, we already had the people hired. Because the goal is to offer jobs to people who are normally marginalized from the labor market.
In addition to engineers, and business and marketing departments, we have a team of therapists (psychologists, social educators, social workers), who work side by side with the technicians, always with the aim of protecting, accompanying and helping these people.
Albert explains that people with disabilities who are well integrated into the workplace improve the work environment. Although it is not easy, he says La Fageda shows that inclusion is possible.
Albert was present at a conference organized by Rome Reports, where projects in line with the Church's social teaching were showcased, even though La Fageda is not strictly a faith-based company. Among those present was Anna Maria Tarantola, president of the Vatican's Centesimus Annus Foundation, who pointed out two obstacles that prevent companies from being more inclusive.
ANNA MARIA TARANTOLA
President, Centesimus Annus Foundation
There is a fear of changing how things work, and on the other hand, even today there is still a prevailing short-term vision, coupled with the deep conviction that market forces alone are capable of finding a balance and solving problems.
Centesimus Annus is John Paul II's encyclical published in 1991, which marked an important step in the developing Catholic social teaching.