INCLUSION IS LONG – TERM VALUE – the pandemic accelerates D&I at Generali

By the Editorial Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our lives from work to social interactions and it has taken a toll on the community – families, employees, working parents and caregivers. 

In these difficul times Generali believes that inclusion is more important than ever. Indeed, we believe that it is our differences that make the difference and that D&I means creating long-term value for our people, our customers and our communities. Through constant communication and virtual training, we support our people to understand the impact of inclusion and build strategies to mitigate bias, particularly in a remote working environment. We believe every crisis hides an opportunity. We can support our people building their virtual work muscles, promoting mindsets, behaviours and practices that leverage on differences and remove barriers. Our work on Inclusion, LGBTQI+, People with Disability and Gender workstreams will be further accelerated during the next months. The Group D&I Team is active more than ever to create an environment where it is safe for every employee in the world to be heard, propose new ideas, step up as allies and come up with collective innovative solutions.

Building solid foundations

Covid-19 has been for the D&I in the corporate world what a tornado is for the area it strikes. All of a sudden D&I could potentially be downgraded to “not a priority”. Yet, this is not what happened at Generali. Five years ago, when the Group started the D&I journey, we invested a lot on laying the right foundations of what has turned out to be a tornadoproof house. Our model of governance has allowed us to be resilient, by reassessing and reshaping our strategy, taking into consideration our 50+ country specificities, yet taking the commitment together to keep D&I high on Leaders’ agenda in 2020 -21. 

Our prime enabler is a strong governance which consists of:

  • Our Group D&I Council, it is made up of our Senior Leadership Team – business leaders from each Business Unit are responsible for setting up the Group D&I strategy, linking it to our Business strategy and steering D&I initiatives locally
  • Our network of D&I Specialists consisting of dedicated HR from each business unit that are responsible for implementing D&I initiatives locally in their respective Business Units 
  • Our D&I Community of Practice (CoP) that enables us to leverage on collective intelligence of champions (all volunteers) across the Group to promote awareness on D&I-related topics, launch new initiatives and scale up existing local actions

In 2019 Generali won the “Champion of Diversity Employer” award, part of the “Women in Finance 2019 Italy Awards” program by the Italian Stock Exchange, thanks to its D&I Governance and strategy. 

Accelerating the pace of inclusion 

Amidst this crisis, we are not relenting our efforts or letting the crisis deflate our energy. We feel this situation should rather spur us to accelerate and deepen our efforts to build a fairer, healthier and inclusive organization. We will start by being more explicit about what we mean by D&I and what its main obstacles are with our over 70,000 employees, continuing our journey into unconscious bias, by bringing them into life and offering strategies to cope with them. We have designed and created learning journeys where professional actors play typical work situations where biases emerge (promotions, request for smart working, cross cultural projects, etc.). By seeing themselves in the mirror, our people will become aware of some of the assumptions they unconsciously make which lead to inefficient and unfair decisions, as well as learn some mechanisms to mitigate them, thus becoming more inclusive in practical terms. 

The current crisis has boosted the adoption of smart working globally, thus accelerating the achievement of one of our D&I ambitions (100% of our entities with smart working in 2021). 

It is very important to focus on the cultural transformationbehind it, to ensure its sustainable adoption, supporting our people to work inclusively and to manage their daily schedules having in mind also their psychological safety (an increasing feeling of isolation) and a healthy work-life balance. Such a cultural transition cannot happen overnight. We will support it with ad hoc communication, training and support initiatives, particularly for working parents who have the additional burden of home schooling. 

Inclusion is now more important than ever and we are committed to work on two specific streams in the coming months: People with disabilities and LGBTQI+. 

On disability, our challenge is yet again a cultural one. We want to focus on the diverse “abilities” that people bring. As employers we have the opportunity to identify and leverage on hidden talents of people with disabilities, let’s think of problem solving, creativity and resilience, among others. We have come up with a structured plan which is based on three main pillars:

Culture – we want to shift the paradigm through training and communication, mainly leveraging on our leaders’ ownership and accountability. Will communicate with our people and share the right positive and inclusive messages

Processes – we will assess and adjust our processes with hard and soft lenses, to ensure inclusion, to eliminate biases and to identify talents in the global market

Right partnerships – given the common needs, we want to share best practices and leverage on the right partners to scale up expertise, technology, network and job placement tools.

On LGBTQI+, we have another unique opportunity which is promoting a real inclusion of this type of diversity by embracing a non-binary culture. We will do so by increasing awarness on this topic, supporting LGBTQI+ people rights, making sure the challanges they face are known. We will soon launch the first Global LGBTQI+ – Ally Network which will support our Group in this journey of inclusion. This will be the first of a series of initiatives to promote LGBTQI+ inclusion in the workplace and in the ecosystem. Last but not least, we believe that the physical distance we are experiencing is particularly challenging for women, who are mainly impacted by Covid-19 from a personal and socio-economic point of view. For this reason, we want to strengthen our commitment to supporting our internal pipeline because our goal is to achieve a more-gender balanced workplace. That’s why we have decided to dedicate a substantial part of our resources to support our female managers worldwide through an interactive online program and are continuing to advance our female senior leaders worldwide through an 18-month journey (Lioness Acceleration Program) aimed at accelerating their development to step into C-suite roles. 

Generali believes that now more than ever it is time to be bold for inclusion as we have a unique opportunity to shape a better future for our people, our customers and our communities. 

PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN DIVERCITY VIII September 2020

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