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Bulgarian Diversity Charter Discussed Role of Neutral and Inclusive Communication in the Workplace

November 08, 2023
Bulgarian Diversity Charter Discussed Role of Neutral and Inclusive Communication in the Workplace

The event was held within  the NICE programme, a regional initiative of the Diversity Charters of Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Lithuania and Romania to create new and innovative approaches to diversity management, equality and inclusion in the workplace

The Bulgarian Diversity Charter held a panel discussion titled Neutral and Inclusive Communication in the Workplace with representatives from business and civil society organisations on 7 November 2023 at Shell Bulgaria.

The event was organised within the framework of the NICE programme (Neutral and Inclusive Communication in Corporate Environments). The main objective was to discuss at expert level existing and new approaches to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) management in work environments related to the introduction and use of neutral and inclusive language.

Participants agreed on the need for inclusive communication because it is essentially effective communication: accessible to every employee and respective of every one of them.

The event brought together DEI practitioners from the private sector and NGOs working with vulnerable groups. More than 15 representatives of Charter members attended the event that was moderated by Kamelia Slaveykova, Chair of the Board of Directors of Shell Bulgaria, member of the Board of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF) and member of the Advisory Board of the Bulgarian Diversity Charter.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all guests for their active participation, as well as to our kind hosts from Shell Bulgaria.

BBLF Chair Levon Hampartzoumian noted the significance of diversity values in successful and sustainable business development and in building a spirit of respect and tolerance in society. Dimitar Markov, Law Programme Director with the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), highlighted the key role of businesses and NGOs in implementing equality and inclusion best practice thus preventing unequal treatment and discrimination in the work environment.

BBLF and CSD are the organisations that launched the Bulgarian Diversity Charter in 2020 with the objective of encouraging and promoting diversity management and inclusion policies in the workplace. The Charter has been signed by 65 signatories, mostly private companies but also civil organisations that commit to combat discrimination and embrace diversity, equal opportunities and social inclusion as part of their strategy and daily operations.

Maria Stoyanova, analyst at CSD and project manager of the Bulgarian Diversity Charter, introduced the NICE programme, a united effort of Diversity Charters in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania and Romania that aims to develop and produce new and innovative training and capacity building programmes in the field of inclusive communication. The project is co-funded by the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) programme of the European Union. 

Maria Stoyanova also presented the two NICE reports she authored. The publication Inclusive Communication in the Workplace: Bulgaria 2023 is the first in-depth review of the use of neutral and inclusive language in the Bulgarian context. It examines national legislation, policies and initiatives implemented by companies and NGOs in the country and points to existing good examples. The analysis highlights the need to incorporate communication techniques that take into account the specific needs and identities of employees.

The second report, From Words to Action: Promoting Inclusive Communication in the Workplace, an intriguing comparative report on Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Lithuania and Romania, which analyses how the public and private sectors in the five countries approach inclusive communication and integrate it into their organisational processes. Among the main findings of the study is the level of commitment of businesses with the topic and the need for specialised resources.

The event continued with presentations by civil society organisations and activists. Sofia Lyateva, Project Manager at GLAS Foundation, presented effective approaches for the inclusion of LGBTI+ employees and focused on creating an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding in the workplace as a guarantee for successful business development. Rayna Sokolova, psychologist, psychotherapist and trainer, highlighted the communication needs of people with visual and other impairments pointing out some best practice implemented in different companies. Blagovest Iliev, communication manager of the World without Borders Association and TV journalist and producer, spoke about the challenges the Roma community is facing and ways to overcome  existing bias and stereotypes. 

In the discussion that followed, participants discussed in depth the relevant needs for inclusive communication, including specific aspects and categories, identified corporate processes and operations where specialised training is applicable, and formulated KPIs and benchmarks while sharing their experience and best practice. Guests included HR, communications, marketing and diversity specialists from Lidl, HPE, Shell, CATRO, Sensata Technologies, Vivacom, Maria's World Foundation.

We would like to thank all those who joined the conversation and provided their professional experience and expertise for the development of specialised training resources on neutral and inclusive communication. The materials will be produced in the framework of the NICE programme in 2024 and will be provided free of charge to Bulgarian Diversity Charter signatories. Their contribution was honoured with official certificates.

Stay tuned for the next discussion within the NICE programme!

Bulgarian Diversity Charter is a joint initiative of the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF) to promote diversity management in the workplace. The Charter encourages and promotes diverse teams and inclusive workplaces by initiatives such as Diversity at Work Annual Award, Diversity at Work best practice exchange, annual member meetings and more. The Bulgarian Diversity Charter is a member of the EU Platform of Diversity Charters in 26 EU member states, and its signatories avail of the exchange of expertise, know-how and resources in this dedicated network.