In the abundance of studies, research and ventures that surround the 8th of March every year, my eye was caught by a survey entitled Future of Work-Diversity and Inclusion, conducted by the Work Observatory of Inaz and Fiera Milano which involved interviewing about 100 HR Managers of Italian Companies. Now at its 5th edition, it is a sign that the topic of Diversity has by no means only just come to the fore in the news. Their first statistic is apparently positive: 84% of those interviewed recognized the “ethical value” of the policies of inclusion, something which, by now, we tend to take for granted. But it is the other statistics that are distressing: only half of interviewees declared that they recognized the effects that these inclusion policies can have on business and only 42% seemed aware of the fact that attention to diversity can also have an impact on the company’s reputation within the financial community.
When it boils down to going from words to actions, it seems that Italian companies have not yet found the way or the motivations to take Diversity seriously: only 46% of those surveyed affirmed that they had already undertaken concrete actions, although 63% of those who answered in the negative are not skimping in good will and declare that they wish to implement them “in the near future”. The diversities considered were, above all, those connected with disability (78%) and gender (76%), while sexual orientation, geographical origin and religion are issues that are not apparently deemed worthy of urgent intervention.
Such statistics are disheartening because it would seem that years of conferences, reports and ventures have all gone by in vain. In Italian companies, cultural awareness is lacking not only of the fact that it is right to respect and value diversities, but above all, that in so doing, business benefits, consumers are drawn closer and the value-related challenges of the new generations will be satisfied. The impression given is that the tired ritual of “Women’s Day” is exploited to carry out a few minimal marketing operations, in the best tradition of greenwashing in the environmental field. After the “mimosa charade” we can go back to doing nothing, or just what is minimally indispensible to keep up a certain reputation. This is, once again, confirmed by Inaz statistics: 76% of companies interviewed declared, in fact, that they were chiefly concerned with countering gender disparity. It’s a pity, then, that only 44% constantly monitor the company’s gender pay gap and only 33% are actually doing something concrete to reduce this disparity.
Could this, perhaps, be due to the particular structure of the Italian business community, made up, as it is, of small and medium-sized family businesses? Could it also be that, on the contrary, it is the outcome of a society that is “theoretically” OK with a series of values but has no real interest in affirming them in the concrete sense? It is difficult to get a sure answer to these questions. We can only express the usual, banal and somewhat despondent wish: let us hope that Italy will find the way to move on from that desolating 63rd position in the ranks of the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum. If only the peculiar astral conjunction, that caused two women to become heads, one of the government and one of the leading opposition party, could favor such a change!