Putting people first: how diversity and inclusion can create value

Putting people first: how diversity and inclusion can create value

Fostering diversity and inclusion provides businesses with an opportunity to innovate, improve the workplace environment and promote productivity 

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Fostering diversity and inclusion can be an opportunity to create value. In the corporate environment this translates into financial advantage: first and foremost, it capitalises on the value inside all of us to create a calmer, more productive workplace. Not only that, having people with different perspectives in the workplace helps drive innovation which, in turn, generates yet more value. Furthermore a company that is focused on diversity and inclusion will tend to draw talent to it and become more attractive to the outside world.

This is confirmed by the results of several studies, including McKinsey’s “Delivering through Diversity” (2018) which argues that companies that create gender diversity-fostering initiatives and those with a workforce of mixed ethnicity have a higher chance of succeeding than those which don’t – to the extent of 15% and 35% respectively, in point of fact. “The Disability Inclusion Advantage" report, which was compiled by Accenture in 2018, also reveals that the revenues of companies that excel in including people with disabilities in the workplace are, on average, 28% higher.

 

Sustainability Plans and goals to set

Companies more focused on this particular subject take concrete action. This is the case with Enel, which included diversity and inclusion among the parameters by which it measures its goals in its 2019-2021 Sustainability Plan.

We started out in this direction in 2013 with the publication of our Human Rights Policy and continued in 2015 by committing to the WEP (Women’s Empowerment Principles) promoted by UN Global Compact and UN Women. That was also the year that we published our Diversity and Inclusion Policy. This translates our philosophy of inclusion and fostering diversity into principles, setting out a set of specific actions that refer in particular to gender, age, nationality and disability diversity and the culture of inclusion at all levels and in all organisational contexts.

We went a step further in 2016 with the setting up of our People Care and Diversity Management global unit, which steers and supervises the adoption of the Policy, using a specific budget to promote initiatives and projects.

In terms of gender equal opportunities, we want to remove all workplace obstacles to having children and provide specific programmes and training activities for new parents to help achieve a good work/life balance. We also work with schools and universities to encourage girls to choose technical and scientific careers through initiatives such as Women in Tech. Lastly, we are aiming to guarantee equal gender representation our internal and external selection processes by the end of the current year.

Our age difference-related initiatives are two-pronged. On the one hand, we have launched tutoring programmes for new employees while, on the other, we organise knowledge sharing activities to help colleagues from different generations share digital skills and organisational knowledge. Other insertion programmes are planned for people within the Group moving to work in another country to facilitate intercultural contact and enhance the benefits of the differences between nationalities.

Equally, we have many important disability initiatives in hand, including those to help colleagues with impaired mobility with work-related travel; redesigning refreshment areas to improve accessibility; activities to foster the professional development of all employees; voice recognition and speech synthesis technologies to make communication easier for the deaf; increasingly widespread availability of audio descriptions for the blind and visually impaired; subtitles and sign language interpreting.

 

Spreading the concept

Practical actions such as this would not be enough alone, however, were they not accompanied by a widespread culture of diversity and inclusion. This is why we have undertaken to support awareness-building in all organisational contexts, thanks in part to the commitment of the company management. 

As a result, we now organise special Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Days each year. Having focused on celebrating diversity of all kinds in 2017 and the importance of its value for people and business in 2018, last year the focus was on the value of proactive inclusivity. The title chosen for these days was “Inclusion Ongoing” to emphasise the fact that the process of creating the concept of inclusion = value is ongoing and demands that we all become actively involved and take responsibility as agents of inclusive behaviour and promotors of a culture of inclusion within the organisation.

The main Inclusion Ongoing event took place in Rome and consisted of a series of plenary sessions and workshops with a large number of guests, speakers from outside the company and Enel managers. They took turns in our Auditorium to define a pathway to discovering the different ways inclusion creates value for business and how it translates into practical behaviours. As was the case in the previous years, the event took place on one of the international D&I days – this year being held on World Disability Day.

 “People come first, by definition: we are all different. Listening means attempting to understand others empathically,” explained Francesca Di Carlo, Enel’s Head of People and Organisation.

At the same time we launched the new Inclusi-ON awareness programme: the word play is a reminder that inclusion is an attitude that has to be activated or “switched on,” and that we are all responsible for doing so. This is why, as also emerged during the Diversity & Inclusion Days, we need to stamp out any judgmental behaviour and embrace empathy, the emotional ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes and look at the world through their eyes.

And, as happened in 2018, we launched informative and experimental activities open to all in the main Enel headquarters in the various nations in which we are present, to provide training in inclusive behaviours and give participants a taste of the richness that can be unleashed by simply changing perspective. 

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