The Covid-19 pandemic is having a very strong impact at the social level, making it even more evident how much our society is affected by widespread and increasingly accentuated inequalities. In the space of a few months, the gap between the included and the excluded has widened further and disparities in terms of protection of rights and access to opportunities represent an emergency that is as serious as it remains underestimated. Despite the efforts made in recent years, Italy's delays regarding the objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda are there for all to see. If we look at the 27 member states of the European Union, our country is fifth-last in Europe in terms of its ability to reduce inequalities, trailing behind with regard to the female employment rate, one of the most effective factors in the fight against poverty. The world of work therefore emerges as the sector where intervening must be prioritised in order to reverse the trend and take decisive steps towards equal opportunities and inclusion.
This is why the Sodalitas Foundation is committed to promoting the Charter for Equal Opportunities and Equality at Work, an initiative developed in synergy with the European Commission and, at the national level, with the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Equal Opportunities and with the network of National Equality Councillors. The authoritative support of Italian and European institutions is a fundamental prerequisite for involving Italian companies in a real ‘alliance for equal opportunities’. To do this, we must first spread greater awareness among companies themselves that investing in Diversity and Inclusion means investing in the competitiveness and development prospects of the company itself. The Charter is a declaration signed voluntarily by companies of all sizes, for the dissemination of a corporate culture and policies of inclusive human resources, free from discrimination and prejudice, capable of enhancing talents in all their diversity; it is part of the European Diversity Charters Platform, promoted by the European Commission to concretely contribute to combating discrimination in the workplace. The Charter has already been adopted by 800 companies, non-profit organisations and public administrations which employ over 700,000 workers. Now a self-assessment tool has also been developed, which allows companies to measure their D&I performance, identify gaps and areas for improvement and undertake measures to make real improvements.
It is important to bring these issues to the forefront today, as we are all engaged in the challenge of building economic recovery that will allow us to emerge from the worst socio-economic crisis in recent history. In fact, we must not hide that many are tempted to believe that, at such a difficult time, the goal of returning to generating growth requires, at least for some time, setting aside apparently ‘softer’ issues, such as diversity and inclusion. Instead, the exact opposite is true: making companies more inclusive and more capable of enhancing diversity is a fundamental boost for the prospects of economic recovery. The companies that sign the Charter for Equal Opportunities and Equality at Work are deeply convinced of this.