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Bulgarian Diversity Charter Held Its First Diversity Communication Lab

December 14, 2023
Bulgarian Diversity Charter Held Its First Diversity Communication Lab

The event is the next step in 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 by introducing neutral and inclusive communication techniques

On 11 December, the Bulgarian Diversity Charter held its first Diversity Communication Lab with representatives of the business and civil society sectors: Charter members, experts and supporters, as well as the teams of Charter co-founders Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF).

We are grateful for the active participation of prominent experts in the field of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) management, human resources and communications from the private sector and representatives of NGOs with extensive experience in working with different vulnerable groups.

We would also like to thank VIVACOM, one of our signatories, for kindly providing the venue for the event.

The Diversity Communication Lab is the next step of the project NICE (Neutral and Inclusive Communication in Corporate Environments) and aims to discuss and develop communication techniques applicable in the workplace.

Attendees were welcomed by Levon Hampartzumian, Chair of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum, and Nikolay Andreev, CEO of VIVACOM. The discussion moderator was Kamelia Slaveykova, Chair of the Board of Directors of Shell Bulgaria, member of the BBLF Board and one of the drivers of the Bulgarian Charter.

In the first part of the event, Maria Stoyanova, Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), presented the NICE programme, which brings together the efforts of Diversity Charters in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania and Romania to create new and innovative training and capacity building programs 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 presented the two reports she authored: Inclusive Communication in the Workplace: Bulgaria 2023, which provides an overview of the environment in our country, and From Words to Action: Promoting Inclusive Communication in the Workplace, a comparative report between the five countries involved in the project. Following two recent panel discussions held at the national and international levels, the team in Bulgaria now has the basic parameters for the training materials to be produced, such as target groups, thematic areas, format, indicators of progress on inclusive communication. See Maria Stoyanova's presentation here.

The first part of the meeting also featured guest speakers from companies and civil organisations that stand up for and work directly with underrepresented groups. Stanimira Georgieva, ESG Manager of Interlang and Stanimira Chocolate House, shared some practical experience in hiring people with different abilities. Evgeni Mitev, Executive Director of Synergia Foundation, highlighted the specifics of communicating with visually impaired people and the advantages for the teams they are included in. Mariana Petrova, manager of ARTIED Art Inspired Education Studio, presented her work with adults with intellectual disabilities and addressed the challenges for people aged 55+ seeking a career change. Desislava Petkova, Project Manager at Caritas Sofia, introduced the guests to the services the organisation provides to various marginalised groups, including refugees and asylum seekers and highlighted some positive examples of social integration.

In the second part of the Lab, participants formed working groups to discuss case studies on four topics: gender balance, intergenerational balance, integration of people with different abilities and of people from different ethnic backgrounds, sharing their knowledge, experience, challenges and best practices. Their findings, practical advice, recommendations will contribute to the development of practical training materials on inclusive communication in the five project countries. These will be piloted at a later stage among willing companies and organisations that have signed the Bulgarian Diversity Charter, and then provided free of charge to Charter signatories.

At the end of the event, participants from VIVACOM, Shell Bulgaria, HPE Bulgaria, Interlang, Commerzbank Digital Centre, Schwarz IT Bulgaria, Matter Social Café, Synergia Foundation, Caritas Sofia, Bulgarian Donors Forum received certificates for their contribution to the NICE programme.

A second Diversity Communication Lab is scheduled for 12 January 2024. Stay tuned!

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 and resources in this dedicated network.