Italian Energy giant focuses on D&I

ENEL’s current issue of their corporate magazine is dedicated to how to create value for business by fostering diversity inside corporations. The company describes itself as a laboratory of diversity.

In its current edition ENEL’s corporate magazine, called e-Magazine, publishes a cover story about Diversity. The report opens by describing some of the company’s global activities and linking this business diversity to other areas of Diversity in the organisation and the workplace. Also the editorial of the issue, by Chairman Patrizia Grieco, describes the global, digital and transformational challenges ahead, and how she envisions ENEL’s future as an integrated utility company. Readers have reasons to be surprised that in this editorial, there is no reference to Diversity, how it will contribute to the journey ahead and to addressing the challenges described.


The cover story opens with the headline ’60,000 reasons to be inclusive’. However, the article makes it clear that Diversity for ENEL is not solely an ethical programme. Business reasons area clearly outlined along with existing gaps where “not all diversity is created equal”. Despite this insight, the diversity dimensions mentioned in the report do not include LGBT or religion, which is interesting for a company headquartered in geographical proximity to the centre of the Catholic Church. There was also a survey conducted to identify priorities, which may be another explanation for the foci. However, the energy giant has managed to ramp up a solid Diversity approach in a short time and already made it to rank 25 on the Thomson Reuters index.

Expert input

The report includes quotes from an HR meeting, where the topic was addressed, including by external expert speakers. The economic perspective is substantiated by business examples such as Apple that introduced a radically diverse business model, marketed under the headline ‘think different’.

ENEL finds itself in a dramatically changing business sector and therefore sees Diversity a strategic necessity. Therefore, the company invited D&I guru, Michael Stuber, to explain some of the cornerstones in a one-page interview. He first outlines the reasons for D&I on three levels: Strategic fit, tactical necessity, and operational value-add. Both research results and practical examples illustrate his story. However, he also talks about existing barriers to make the most of differences, including unconscious biases, and the importance of addressing them in a coherent way. Stuber says clearly that an explicit and tailored approach is needed in an organisation to create traction.

Energies from all over the world

The cover story continues by describing personal stories from employees in ENEL’s global organisation. Globally mobile Italians, people from diverse India, (re)emigration stories – the breadth of the editorial content reflects the potential of the worldwide network ENEL has created. Consequently, multi-culturalism and mobility, including mentorship opportunities for expats, form part of the D&I programme design.

Another focus is – similar to the vast majority of large corporations – gender equality. Again, it’s the power of well-selected, pattern-breaking stories that sends a strong message. In this section, ENEL chairwoman, Patrizia Grieco, is quoted from their Women’s Forum of Inequality and Sustainable Growth (April 2017) regarding equal pay and disparities in household work. Also in other areas, including hiring or promotion, the company aims at gender parity. While the overall ambition deserves recognition, there ample experience shows that 50:50 goals create friction when the available pools might be 80:20 or 70:30. ENEL seems to be aware of the situation in their Industry as they support Girls Go Tech and similar initiatives. The company also has programmes to support parents, recognising the transferrable skills they acquire as a result of their engagement in the family.

A section on Crossing barriers – Stories of colleagues who never give up – addresses disabilities. The stories focus on barriers that people with a disability still face including the risk of being underestimated or left out. In fact, in Italy alone, ENEL employs some 6% of people with a disability and is committed to do more: The company currently conducts a review of needs of employees with a disability. As part of the overall D&I policy, Enel also established a group of Disability Advocates to manage challenges also outside of Italy.

The cover story concludes with reports about inter-generational dialogues and mentions a 12 M€ investment in BioDiversity, providing an editorial bridge back to a strategic chapter where the CEO, Francesco Starace, explains the strategic priorities for his upcoming next term. He links Diversity to the need of utility companies to “modifying their very DNA” and stresses the importance of recognising the diversity that already exists. “There is no other way … to be innovative and … competitive”, Francesco Starace concludes.

Two pages from ENEL’s e-magazine, including expert input, can be found here, in Italian and English.