Championing Diversity in a Divided Italy
The Italian election – turbulent times for diversity and inclusion?
This week I was invited to Rome to speak at a conference organised by our Italian partners, Diversity Opportunity.
I arrived in Italy at a particularly turbulent time. Only the day before, the Italian election had ended in a hung parliament, with anti-establishment parties each claiming the right to form a government.
The focus of the conference was on the business case for diversity and inclusion. In attendance were representatives from universities, global entertainment brands and facilities management companies, to name just a few.
Italy is Europe’s fourth-largest economy, and like the rest of the continent, it’s experiencing major demographic change linked to immigration. Depopulation is a serious issue: according to national statistics agency Istat, the Italian population will decrease by seven million over the next 50 years. Birth rates are slowing, while the numbers of people emigrating from and immigrating to Italy are expected to be roughly equal.
Given the scope of social and political change after this Italian election, it’s clear that the workplace demographic will change significantly. An interesting time, then, to speak to business leaders about how the current climate affects their diversity and inclusion plans.
How Italian HR leaders are embracing the business case for diversity and inclusion
What struck me at the event was how Italian HR leaders were down-playing the progress they’ve made. I had a sense that they felt behind the curve when compared to their counterparts in the UK and the US. From the outside looking in, I felt the exact opposite. Every speaker at the event was incredibly clear on the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ of diversity and inclusion.
One of my upcoming interviewees on the EW Group podcast, Elvis Daniel, is an HR Business Partner for the American medical technology giant Stryker. He told me that, although they have a strong culture set by their US parentage, the company’s Italian business has the autonomy to develop diversity and inclusion training programmes that are specific and relevant to their local workforce.
More and more, global clients like Stryker are starting to see the business benefits of providing diversity and inclusion training sessions for their staff which are both:
- Aligned with their overarching vision and values
- Tailored to the specific context in which their people are working ‘on the ground’, wherever in the world that may be.
The team at Diversity Opportunity, who hosted the event at the offices of eFM, are doing great work in Italy to develop inclusive cultures, structures and policies for their clients. This year, we’ll be working with them to provide bilingual sessions on unconscious bias, inclusive leadership and creating inclusive cultures at work.