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A Webinar on Best Corporate Practice Marked EU Diversity Month 2022

May 10, 2022
A Webinar on Best Corporate Practice Marked EU Diversity Month 2022

Bulgarian Diversity Charter’sevent presented the projects of the companies awarded in the Workplace Diversity@Work category of the Annual Responsible Business Awards

For a second year in a row the Bulgarian Diversity Charter held a webinar on good corporate practice in diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. The event provided a platform for sharing ideas and experience in the context of the new Diversity@Work category of the Annual Responsible Business Awards. It also marked EU Diversity Month 2022: a celebration of equality, respect and inclusion in workplaces and across societies in EU countries.

The official guests were Prof. Dr. Ana Dzhumalieva, Chairperson of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination (CPAD), Levon Hampartzoumian, Chairman of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF), and Dimitar Markov, Director of the Law Programmeof the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD). Speakers from the business sector were senior managers in the companies recognised for their successful diversity policies in the Annual Responsible Business Awards 2021: HPE Bulgaria, IBM Bulgaria, BGAssist.

The discussion was attended by representatives of over 50 companies and organisations: BBLF members, Bulgarian Diversity Charterexisting and potential signatories, like-minded individuals from the private, public and NGO sectors with an interest in the topic.

An event of the Bulgarian Diversity Charter, a joint initiative of BBLF And CSD to promote diversity management in the workplace, the webinar was part of EU Diversity Month, celebrated in May across EU member states and mottoed Building Bridges. The event promotes the significance of mutual respect and equalityembracing differences in workplaces and societies across the European Union. The webinar in Bulgaria also aimed to promote the achievements of leading companies and to stimulate their business peers to recognise the benefits of diverse teams and inclusive workplaces.

At the opening, Levon Hampartzoumian, BBLF Chairman, stressed that building diverse and inclusive environments for employees regardless of their differences is a business strategy of many responsible companies which ensures their development and success, but also contributes to a fair and civilised society and a better world.

Dimitar Markov, CSD Law Programme Director and event moderator, pointed out that in the months since its launch in late 2020 the number of signatories has been growing, and the general interest in the topic has also surging. The Charter's main mission is to seek out and promote best practices from Bulgaria - the best way to promote diversity in the workplace is through the exchange of practical experience, he emphasised.

Promoting best corporate practice at the national level is one of the objectives of BBLF's Annual Responsible Business Awards. Following the introduction of diversity in the workplacefocus in the previous edition of the prominent corporate responsibility and sustainability competition through the announcement of a special award, this year diversity was included as a separate, new category which attracted 9 entries. Signatories of the national Diversity Charter: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Bulgaria, BGAssist, Cargill Bulgaria and BAT Bulgaria, as well as IBM Bulgaria, Paysafe, Transpress, Nestle and Musala Soft competed for the prestigious title. A month ago a jury panel of experts and members of the Diversity Charter’s Advisory Board determined the three winners – Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM and BGAssist that ranked first, second and third respectively. They were invited to share their achievements during the EUn Diversity Month webinar.

Jana Kukuckova from the European Commission in Brussels was unfortunately unable to attend, but highlights from the event will be shared with the European Platform of Diversity Charters. Since its inception, the Bulgarian Charter has been a member of this international network where all 26 EU member states work together to promote diversity, equality and tolerance in both the private sector and society at large.

Prof. Dr. Ana Dzhumalieva, CPAD Chairperson and a member of the jury that determined the winners in the diversity category, informed participants about the Committee's mission and activities, and the draft national strategy for counteracting discrimination in the labour market (presentation in Bulgarian). The CPAD is the main state body that monitors equality and non-discrimination and a partner of the Bulgarian Diversity Charter since its launch.  

The second, practical sessionof the webinar included representatives of the companies that won the Diversity@Workaward in the Annual Responsible Business Awards 2021.

Radoslava Petkova, Programme Manager, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Bulgaria, presented the corporate diversity and inclusion programme that earned the company the first prize (presentation). „At Hewlett Packard Enterprise, our employees make a real impact on our business, the world and the environment in which we all live. We foster a culture that is unconditionally inclusive and empower our employees to contribute their diverse perspectives, ideas and experiences to a common goal: to improve the way people live and work. The Company implements a number of programmes both globally and locally that promote diversity and foster an environment of respect and inclusion for all employees and impact the social environment. Some of the projects we worked on in the past year with resource groups in Bulgaria include HPE Bulgaria Abilities Talks, #BetterTogether, Epic Girls, Subtitling Heroes, Christmas Stars, Sunny Smiles, Celebrating PRIDE Month. All of these have been delivered through our resource groups, with the dedicated involvement of many staff members and in strong collaboration with our NGO partners, and with real impact on the goals that are essential for our organisation and the community at large: diversity, equity and inclusion,“ she said.

Violeta Karanacheva-Tzvetanova, University Relations, Learning and Diversity Country Focal, IBM Bulgaria, introduced the diversity programme with which the company ranked second  (presentation). In 2021 it included 5 main themes: women in IT, parents in the company, the LGBTI+ community, people with different abilities and mental health. These were reflected in more than 40 events, organised in cooperation with a number of partner organisations and with the enormour input ofvolunteer employees. The RiseUp Academy for Women in IT, successfully conceived and implemented in Bulgaria, will be multiplied on a global scale, Violeta Karanacheva-Tsvetanova said.

Third place in the Diversity@Workcategory went to BGAssist, who were unable to attend, but their Different and Unique project for employment of people with visual impairments can be found in the Responsible Business Awards’ archive here.

In the subsequent discussion, participants had the opportunity to pose their specific practical questions to each of the speakers.

Please find more about the speakers here.

About the Bulgarian Diversity Charter

 A joint initiative of the Centre for the Study of Democracy and the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum to promote diversity management in Bulgaria. The Charter expresses the shared belief of its signatories that diversity is not only a key factor for creativity, innovation, growth and productivity, but also a personal incentive for employees to improve their knowledge, competencies, talents and skills. By signing the Charter, members make a public commitment to create and maintain an inclusive work environment for their employees. Because diversity is an asset! For further details: www.diverse-bg.eu