Diversity charters are among the latest in a series of voluntary diversity initiatives aimed at encouraging companies to implement and develop diversity policies.
A diversity charter consists of a short document voluntarily signed by a company or a public institution. It outlines the measures it will undertake to promote diversity and equal opportunities in the workplace, regardless of race or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability and religion.
The diversity policies developed within companies adhering to a diversity charter recognise, understand and value people's similarities and differences as representing huge potential sources of innovation, problem-solving, customer focus, etc.
EU-level exchange platform
The European Commission recognises that diversity charters can contribute to fighting discrimination in the workplace and to promoting equality.
Therefore it is funding a platform for EU-level exchange between organisations promoting and implementing national diversity charters. The platform is part of a larger project which aims at supporting voluntary initiatives promoting diversity management in the workplace.
The EU-level exchange platform allows the promoters of the existing diversity charters to meet on a regular basis, to share their experiences and develop common tools.
Diversity charters across the EU
The following flags will lead to further information on the existing diversity charters across the EU.
The Austrian “Charta der Vielfalt” was launched in November 2010 as an initiative of the Federal Economic Chamber, the Vienna Economic Chamber and the diversity consultancy Pauser&Wondrak. The first eleven signatory companies were BAWAG P.S.K., equalizent, Hewlett-Packard, IBM Österreich, Microsoft Österreich, Novartis Austria, Österreichische Volksbank AG, Secretary Search Personalberatung, TNT Express (Austria) GmbH, UniCredit Bank Austria and Western Union Financial Services.
The charter covers all fields of discrimination, such as gender, age, ethnical affiliation, skin colour, disability, sexual orientation, religion and values. With their signatures, companies, organizations and public entities formally express their appreciation and respect for diversity. They commit to carry out measures to promote diversity internally and externally. Two months after the start the number of signatories has now doubled to more than 20 organizations.
As "employment" is an area of regional competence in Belgium, each region has developed its own initiative to foster diversity within companies. The Brussels-Capital Region diversity charter was launched in December 2005 by Benoît Cérexhe, the Minister for Employment and Economy, in collaboration with the Union of Enterprises in Brussels (UEB) and the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital Region.
The Brussels diversity charter is usually followed by an action plan and a label. In September 2010, 144 companies had signed the charter, including Axa, Manpower and L'Oréal, as well as small businesses like EXKi and Cofinimmo.
Launched in October 2004 by Claude Bébéar, CEO of Axa, the French diversity charter was the first of its kind to be established in Europe and went on to inspire other initiatives.
The diversity charter expresses a company's willingness to improve the degree to which their workforce reflects the diversity of French society.
When a company signs the diversity charter, it commits to implementing the six articles in the charter, which engage the signatory companies to carry out tangible actions to promote diversity. The signatory company also agrees to report on the actions it has performed in the previous year in an annual online questionnaire.
There are currently 2895 signatories to the French charter including L'Oreal, Carrefour, and BNP PARIBAS, as well as numerous SMEs and micro-enterprises.
The German charter was launched on 13th December 2006 with the support of Maria Böhmer, Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration. Although inspired by the French charter, the German charter takes a broader approach, covering 10 fields of discrimination: gender, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, philosophy, physical ability, age, sexual orientation and identity.
The first signatory companies were Daimler, Deutsche Bank, BP and Deutsche Telekom. The number of signatories has now grown to over 870 organisations employing more than 4.9 million people. Over half of the signatories belong to the private sector; 20% are large corporations. Approximately one out of five signatories is from the public sector. Nine of Germany's ten largest cities have also joined the charter.
The Italian charter for equal opportunities was launched in October 2009 by initiative of Fondazione Sodalitas, a foundation working in support of corporate social responsibility.
The charter is supported by the Italian Equality Body network which is part of the steering committee together with Associazione Italiana delle Aziende Familiari, Associazione Italiana Donne Dirigenti d'Azienda, Fondazione Sodalitas, Impronta Etica, and Unione Cristiana Imprenditori Dirigenti.
It is supported by the Italian Ministry of Labour and by the Ministry of Equal Opportunities.
The charter covers all the types of discrimination: gender, disability, race/ethnic origin, age, etc. Some of the concrete actions within the charter include identifying tools to help reconcile life and work and periodically monitoring the progress of equal opportunities and assessing the impact of good practices. There are currently about 80 signatory companies, representing over 600.000 employees. These include Banca Popolare di Milano, Bracco, Coop Adriatica, Ferrovie dellìo Stato, IBM Italia, Pirelli & C, Poste Italiane.
The Spanish diversity charter was launched on 17th March 2009 by initiative of the European Institute of Diversity Management with the support of the Ministry of Equal Opportunities.
Over 365 companies have now signed the diversity charter in Spain, including Banco Santander, BBVA, Bankinter, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, Grupo Alares, Telefónica Learning Services, Endesa, NH Hoteles.
By signing the diversity charter, these companies are committing themselves to comply with equal opportunities and antidiscrimination legislation and to adhere to a number of basic principles such as:
- Creating awareness about the principles of equal opportunities and respect for diversity which should be included in the values of the company and disseminated to employees;
- Making progress in the building of a diverse workforce by fostering the inclusion of people with diverse profiles, regardless of their gender, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, beliefs, age, sexual orientation, disability, etc.
The Swedish Diversity Charter was launched 2 December 2010 by ten initiators – Volvo Cars, Novartis, L'Oreal, Skanska, Axfood, A-Search, Sodexo, Scandic, Lectia and Managing Diversity. By signing the Swedish Diversity Charter, companies commit to undertaking a personalised Diversity challenge that aims to evolve the company’s organisational Diversity strategy based its current situation and position regarding Diversity. The challenge is unique for each company and is developed following an analysis conducted during the dialogue between the Charter and the company. This challenge can involve all areas in the range of Diversity, but most importantly it must represent a real challenge for the company in order for it to take a step forward towards its Diversity aims.
The Polish diversity charter was launched in February 2012 by the Responsible Business Forum in collaboration with the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment and the Office of the Polish Human Rights Defender. The text of the Charter was discussed in collaboration with public administration, non-profit organisations, trade unions and business representatives. The charter exceeds the regulations of the Polish Labour Code. In addition to introducing diversity management in companies, it also includes the appointment of a person or team which coordinatese diversity actions in the organization, implements periodic anti-discrimination education for all employees and reports on the undertaken activities and their results.
So far 14 companies have signed the Polish charter: Aviva, British American Tobacco Polska, Danone, Deloitte Polska, Grupa Orbis, Grupa TP, Grupa Żywiec, Kompania Piwowarska, L'Oreal Polska, Nutricia, Provident Polska S.A., PwC, Totalizator Sportowy sp. z o.o., and Unilever. These enterprises employ almost 50 000 people in total. The charter can be signed by every NGO, institution, company and even public administration by contacting the Responsible Business Forum.