When we speak about diversity, questions are often raised about the roles companies play and how much is real and how much is posturing or purely out of interest in our discourse on more diverse and inclusive work environments. Many articles and reports clearly show how diverse talent enriches a company, how more diversity leads to more innovation and that more diverse companies are more profitable. I have no doubt about the benefits that diversity brings to business, but my post today has a different focus: this is, first and foremost, a matter of defending human rights.
This month, Enagás joined REDI, the Spanish Business Network for LGBTI Diversity and Inclusion, and by doing so has taken a further step along the path we set for ourselves years ago in our firm and decisive commitment to diversity.
It is simply unacceptable that in that 21st-century there are companies where individuals suffer discrimination when accessing and performing jobs, or who are unable to talk comfortably about their personal relationships and social and family life if they so wish.
I endorse the words spoken by the EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, to celebrate European Month of Diversity in May this year: “With more diverse workplaces, we will create a fairer and more equal Europe for all.” And I share her call to action: “Let’s all take a bolder stand for diversity and act in its favour.”
True diversity, therefore, cannot be reduced to colours and well-intentioned words; it has to manifest itself through unambiguous declarations, firm attitudes, and deeds and specific commitments. It entails fighting against homophobia, male chauvinism and, in short, all discrimination against individuals who are perceived as different, whether because of their age, skin colour, physical appearance, disability or any other reason.
More and more companies have implemented a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. I would like to offer a few brief personal reflections on how we, especially those of us in senior management, can put these policies into practice in our day-to-day work:
- By being very aware that this is not a secondary, optional or ‘fashionable’ issue, but an indisputable question of courtesy and respect, which concerns us all, especially those of us in leadership roles.
- By ensuring that all individuals who work in the company can pursue their career in safe conditions and without fear of being singled out.
- By eradicating biases and not tolerating the prejudices and stereotypes that are perpetuated in language and discriminatory behaviour.
- By listening, integrating and representing different points of view, by giving everybody a voice and promoting a greater variety of models.
- By enabling ourselves to question our own business culture and promote a culture that is increasingly based on collaboration, trust, flexibility and openness to change, and new ideas.
- By speaking out for diversity and equality, and setting an example, not just on the two or three days marked on the calendar but in our every-day commitment and behaviour throughout the whole year.
The world is changing at an increasingly rapid pace and companies have to be up to the task of evolving at the same speed, especially when it comes to ensuring an inclusive work environment, where each and every person feels that they can be themselves and that they are valued, without bias, for their work and their talent.