The energy of cultural diversity, for equitable and sustainable development
The energy of cultural diversity, for equitable and sustainable development
On May 21, we celebrate the "World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development" – a strategic value that we cultivate by putting people at the center, in order to ensure their equitable and inclusive growth.
Cultural diversity is a factor in sustainable development, innovation and dialogue; it can improve people's well-being, enhance their talents, promote harmony among communities and countries, and accelerate an economy based on equity and inclusion. The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, which has been celebrated on May 21 for more than two decades, promotes the value of diversity not only understood as the wealth of cultures from every corner of the world, but also in terms of entrusting intercultural dialogue with a decisive role for peace and truly inclusive economic growth.
The United Nations General Assembly established this anniversary in 2002, following the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted by UNESCO, recognizing the need to "enhance the potential of culture as a means to achieve prosperity, sustainable development and global peaceful coexistence". This message that was reinforced in 2015 by the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the UN Resolution on Culture and Sustainable Development, which links the promotion of cultural diversity to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to two in particular: SDG 8, aimed at fostering long-lasting, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, with full and productive employment and decent work for all, and SDG 16, which promotes peace and justice, the rule of law, and overcoming all forms of abuse and violence. These are goals that, according to the United Nations, can only be achieved by "tapping into the creative potential of the world's diverse cultures and engaging in an ongoing dialogue to ensure that all members of society benefit from sustainable development."
From this perspective, the workplace and policies pursued by multinational companies such as ours that promote diversity and inclusion, become strategic in terms of bringing cultures closer together, valuing diversity and, at the same time, creating value.
Diversity and inclusion: values that generate value
According to the Transforming Enterprises through Diversity and Inclusion report produced by the United Nations' International Labor Organization (ILO), companies that offer high levels of equality, diversity and inclusion are more innovative, perform better, have a greater ability to attract and retain talent and to ensure people's well-being.
However, the study – which surveyed companies of all sizes in low- and upper-middle-income economies, gathering information from a diverse mix of staff, managers and senior executives – shows that only half of the sample said that diversity and inclusion were sufficiently promoted in their company's corporate culture and strategy.
To make diversity and inclusion policies more effective, the report suggests, it is necessary for companies to make a systemic change by prioritizing inclusion initiatives, strengthening minority representation in top management positions, empowering people in their daily actions and behaviors, and transforming them into ambassadors of diversity and inclusion. Finally, the culture of diversity and inclusion must become mainstream and be present in all business processes. To translate these actions into reality, the report suggests, it is necessary for companies to analyze the impact of inclusion initiatives in all aspects, taking into account personal characteristics such as ethnicity, gender and company level.
Our multicultural energy
In Enel, there are about 65,000 people belonging to more than 80 nationalities and speaking 24 languages. So for us, cultural and ethnic diversity is an extraordinary resource, which we continue to enhance by promoting understanding, relationships and influence among different cultures.
Acting in an inclusive way, putting the person at the center in his or her social and work contexts – we believe this is the only viable way to address the great challenges of our time, like the energy transition, the fight against climate change, and the processes of digitalization and technological innovation, all of which also profoundly affect the workplace.
To do this, we are committed to creating "a new work ecosystem in which the focus is on people and their well-being, participation and dignity." This is the focus of the Statuto della Persona (“Charter of the Person”) – a protocol signed with labor organizations in Italy on March 29, 2022 and gradually rolled out across the Group's various geographic locations. The Statute places the human being at the center, valuing his or her uniqueness and interpreting his or her needs, at all stages of the employment journey. The document reaffirms the attention with which our Group has always strived to listen to the needs of its people. At the end of 2022, we promoted a new edition of Open Listening, a global channel to periodically survey the company climate and collect useful information with respect to mood, well-being and job satisfaction through listening to our employees on issues ranging from work-life balance to diversity and inclusion.
Ambassadors of diversity and inclusion
Our approach to diversity and inclusion is based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights and in particular on the principles set forth in Articles 22 and 27 of non-discrimination, equal opportunity, inclusion, respect and equal dignity for all forms of diversity, from gender, age, nationality, disability, ethnic and cultural diversity and LGBTQ+. This is a journey we began ten years ago with the publication in 2013 of our Human Rights Policy, followed in 2015 by the endorsement of the seven Women's Empowerment Principles (WEP) promoted by UN Global Compact and UN Women and the simultaneous publication of the Diversity and Inclusion Policy.
There are many initiatives that we implement globally to turn each of our people into an ambassador of diversity and inclusion.
To foster intercultural diversity, we have globally provided for tutors to ensure the integration of people moving to countries other than their country of origin. In addition, in order to reduce the risk of misunderstandings in multicultural contexts, we’ve made available an online service called WIRED - Connecting Intercultural Skills. It’s an opportunity for exchange and sharing that focuses on intercultural sensitivity in terms of understanding and respecting different points of view, tolerance of ambiguity, listening, and observation, and last but not least, the ability to prevent prejudice by understanding and constructively using stereotypes by paying proper attention to nonverbal language as well.
Being ambassadors of diversity and inclusion means spreading, at every level of the organization, a culture that welcomes the unique characteristics of every individual in order to create authentically inclusive contexts based on respect, care and behaviors free of all forms of prejudice. Special attention is given to projects for the inclusion of colleagues who are in vulnerable circumstances.
MaCro@Work is the global program in which the person is at the center of a collaborative network that supports "vulnerable" colleagues and provides active listening and help to create an appropriate work environment.
We have long taken a systemic approach to disability inclusion as well. Enel Valuability©®, for example, is the model we use to foster the inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities, acting in particular on the accessibility of the physical and digital environment, in order to capture the potential of markets with innovative products and services for all.
The concept of inclusion has developed over time by spreading culture through specific training and communication actions, for example, the events of global D&I Days dedicated to the inclusion of all diversity, and the creation of training tracks such as Beyond Bias, to combat the main biases that can be encountered in the work environment.
There are numerous initiatives dedicated to the development of women's empowerment within the organization: from those focused on cultural change, to managerial development, to mentoring, coaching and shadowing programs, to training and upskilling and reskilling programs, not least the enhancement and promotion of STEM subjects, especially among female students who are still underrepresented in this field.
To reinforce an understanding of the uniqueness of our people, both inside and outside the company, we promoted the "A day as a colleague" campaign, which, in our people’s own words and experiences, shines a light on the many different jobs in our company, bringing to social media channels "a colleague's typical day", with his or her work activities, relationship with co-workers, the story of their personal interests and how these often match their daily work.
It's a campaign that meets the spirit of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, whose goal is to promote inclusion by enhancing the potential of creativity and knowledge of skills.
Diversity and Inclusion: measurable values
People, with their uniqueness and talents, are individual pieces in a complex mosaic: through the principles of inclusion and diversity, they become essential elements in the creation of long-term sustainable value. It’s a paradigm that is applied to all people in our Group, from colleagues to customers to suppliers, and it translates into economic and sustainable value.
The complexity of the scenarios in which we operate and the unforeseen events of recent years have led us to the development of digitalization strategies for our data model, a digital measurement system that is supportive both in decision-making processes and in terms of D&I. With this in mind, in 2022, we created the People Care and Diversity & Inclusion dashboard, which allows us to constantly monitor benchmark trends and adjust our strategies.
Speaking of measurement and positioning in the outside world, in December 2022 our company achieved its highest score ever in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index – an index in which we’ve been present for nineteen years – which evaluates companies' sustainability practices through S&P's Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment model. This model also takes into account diversity and inclusion policies, an area in which we’re recognized as a world leader by the Refinitiv Diversity and Inclusion Index: we rank 30th in the Top 100 index compiled by Refinitiv for the "Electric Utilities & IPPs" grouping.
In 2023, for the fourth time in a row, we were also listed by Bloomberg in its Gender Equality Index, and we are among the top 100 companies in Equileap’s Gender Equality Global Report & Ranking.
Recognitions like these help increase the value of our company and allow us to assess the effectiveness of our strategies, prompting us to invest more and more in human capital, cultural diversity and inclusion.