GBDN China – Raising the bar through cooperation

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9 Jul 2019

It was in spring 2017 when Taicang Inclusion Factory’s  Head of the Job Coach Department, Marina Kalnitski, and Flex CSER Director, Sarah Albert, first met – during a China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF) hosted conference in Beijing. Both were speaker about disability-inclusive employment in China.

Taicang Inclusion Factory was set up in 2014 and its employees include more than 25 people with intellectual disabilities. Their customer base consists mostly of European automotive multinational enterprises and they provide services like sub-assemblies and configuration services. The Taicang Inclusion initiative has developed a programme for the training of Job Coaches, together with well-known universities in China. The programme includes the certification of the Vocational Training Department in the German Chamber of Commerce, China. More information is available at

Flex, a Fortune 500 enterprise, has Diversity and Inclusion embedded in its business strategies and employs people with various disabilities across several global sites. Flex Zhuhai has more than 500 employees with disabilities.

Taicang Inclusion Factory and Flex were actively seeking opportunities to work together and join forces. Thus, both companies became founding members of the China Chapter of the ILO GBDN in June 2018. Haibin Zhou, head of the the GBDN China Chapter secretariat, had been a Disability Equality Training (DET) facilitator for Flex for several years.

By becoming members of the GBDN China Chapter, the companies Marina and Sarah represent were able to engage even more often, supported by a bigger professional network, other good company practices, experts from other network members as well as expertise from other countries. A more concrete cooperation plan took shape, and after half a year of preparation, Taicang Inclusion Factory officially became Flex’ consultant to support the employment of people with intellectual disabilities in Flex Zhuhai.

The programme, named  Mechanical Inclusive Factory (MIF), was roughly split into five parts:

  1. Training: two of Flex staff spent five weeks training in Taicang
  2. Preparation: Taicang team present at Flex premises
  3. Hiring: Open Day, assessment period, onboarding
  4. Training: various trainings, from soft to technical skills
  5. Production: MIF team products are part of the mass production

The programme demonstrates that it needs the right partners to achieve the best results. Flex did have experience in the area of inclusion of people with disabilities in general, however, the company had not yet hired people with intellectual disabilities. To also include workers with intellectual disabilities in their staff, experts and collaboration were needed. The GBDN China Chapter offered this as well as for each of their members to get connected to and learn from each other.