Business Innovation and Creation through Diversity, Diversity at the Workplace European Commission DG JUST

The European Commission supports an EU-Level exchange platform between organisations promoting and implementing national Diversity Charters. In this context, the conference “Business Innovation and Creation through Diversity” took place in Brussels on 30th November. The conference explored the dynamic approach of Diversity Charters in Europe promoting Diversity in the workplace, examining the role of SMEs, public authorities and business in driving the Diversity agenda forward.In her opening speech, Lina Papamichalopoulou, Head of Unit in the European Commission Directorate-General for justice, pointed out, that diversity provides good opportunities to utilise potential and to make use of “all the smart brains we have”.
One goal of the EU is to achieve smart and sustainable growth. In order for it to be inclusive, equal opportunities for all will be needed. But still 61% (of European citizens) find racism widespread.
Concerning the fact that there are 21 million companies in EU, there is an urgent need for dialogue at EU level, and between the EU and its stakeholders. Especially due to a new economic environment and the impact of crises and social media. Developments like demographic ageing and mobility etc. are rising and challenging the competitive environment. Costs of R&D etc. can be improved by D&I.
Focusing economic growth, Diversity contributes to job creation, generating margins, and labour market integration. It is in everybody’s interest. But still a report presented in October identified obstacles. It shows the urgency of focusing on clear objectives.
As part of the conference, a short film informed about the European model of Diversity Management and appreciated creativity.
In a round table section, the participants discussed about the situation of and challenges to Diversity Management. Reducing it to a simple formula: Launching and sustaining turn out to be most challenging. Furthermore, measurement, labelling and evaluation tools are needed. Added value for SMEs has been discussed, too.
Manfred J. Wondrak (Austrian Diversity Charta) introduced the Panel discussion with Diversity Experts who pointed out measurement benefits of Diversity Management.
Rachid Bensahnoune, HR Director at L‘Oréal, said that L‘Oréal has started 1971 introducing one month of pregnancy leave. Anti-Discrimination and inter-cultural Management as parts of Diversity followed. A HR Community – Business Community added value. L‘Oréal is doing big steps in promoting women at board positions: 23% of Senior Management are women, even 37% in Brand Management. But if there is no starting point, no vision can be fixed. The methodology must be adapted to the business case and data is needed as well.
Another example was introduced by Monika Haiser Equalizent, SME Disability, Vienna. The company introduced a Score Card on Diversity. It focuses on organisational learning: It improves the relationship between education and competences, using non-discriminatory language, and concerning bi-lingualism. This influences balanced market segments.
Michel Monnot, Vice President Group Diversity and Inclusion, Sodexho, stressed on engagement (beyond satisfaction). For evaluation, Diversity questions are on the table bi-annually. Additionally, they provide a Global scorecard, mainly for women in management.
In the end, the panel evaluated questions like: How to measure Inclusion and thus contribution of corporate culture to success? Only one message is for sure: Business case first.