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For an inclusive workplace, rely on diversity, not on the law

The EU may have a very comprehensive legal framework to combat discrimination, but it’s not enough to rely on it as a deterrent. Instead, companies must go beyond the letter of the law and foster a truly inclusive workplace, as did pasta giant Barilla.

Anti-discrimination laws are very nice, but are far from sufficient to combat discrimination, and perhaps not even the best way to tackle the issue. It is perhaps surprising that such strong a statement should come from a professor of law, and to boot, a keen member of a not-for-profit association of lawyers for LGBT rights, which led important anti-discrimination lawsuits before Italian courts.

Yet in effect what Matteo Winkler says is that the law is only one limited tool in the fight against discriminations. Instead, he makes the argument for promoting a truly diverse workplace as the best way to prevent discrimination from happening in the first place.

To illustrate his point, he describes two colorful case studies, both involving prominent Italian figures who uttered shockingly disparaging public statements about homosexuals. While one case was resolved in courts, the other – involving the pasta giant Barilla – was exemplary in that it consisted in changing the corporate culture altogether, with consciousness-raising training programs for the entire workforce. Incidentally, Barilla’s positive move was also a reaction against an international boycott. Still, the case is illustrative and well worth reading about extensively.

To go further

Why Anti-Discrimination Laws Are Not Enough to Ensure Inclusivenes

Matteo Winkler, Knowledge@HEC, June 2021

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Marie-France Grand-Clément
Publié par Marie-France Grand-Clément
Marie est l’interlocutrice privilégiée de nos abonnés, prestataires et partenaires. Elle gère toute la partie administrative et assiste l’équipe dans les différents projets. Elle se charge également des événements organisés par Business Digest.