INTERVIEW WITH JAVIER ZUBICOA FROM GENERALI SPAIN
What were you like when you were younger? How were you educated? How did your parents’ cultural diversity influence your growth? I was a rather shy guy when I was a kid, who really loved books, movies, art, etc. so I guess I have made a huge journey throughout the years from being an introvert to having to deal with so many different types of people.
My parents did not have a really diverse background but they were very open to my cultural interests. They promoted and sup- ported my different interests, which led me to absorb really different points of view and perspectives. I guess this has been a huge reason for my devotion to diversity and inclusion.
What did you study? Did you study in your country or abroad?
I studied for a degree in law in my country, Spain, and specialised in Labor Law and Human Resources management.
What was your first role and what expectations did you have when you started there?
I started as a Labor attorney and my main expectations were to grow both professionally and personally and to travel around the world. I have always been passionate about People Management and when I started I was really curious and eager to excel and develop my expertise within this field.
How have you seen diversity and inclusion change in the last 5 years?
Diversity and Inclusion started some time ago as an HR best practice and there has been a huge leap in recent years, to the point that it is a must-have for all companies, a necessity to guarantee employee engagement and to understand customers’ needs in a diverse society in which personalisation is key to succeeding in the market.
What does diversity stand for, for you?
Diversity means different ways of thinking, being and ex- pressing oneself. Some of these different perspectives can be common in certain groups because of specific circumstances:
gender, generation, nationality, sexual orientation, etc. But at the end of the day it is about taking into account the unique- ness of each and every human being.
What are your key commitments?
My key commitment is to help catalyse cultural change and implement initiatives that can have a real and positive impact on people.
Why is diversity a strategic lever for sustainable growth?
Diversity is about embracing differences; it is an openness to other perspectives that is key to growing in a society that is growing more diverse every day. An organization cannot grow if some of its employees feel left behind, if some of its clients feel that its products and services are not considering their needs. This way of thinking applies to sustainability. Sustain- ability is defined through interconnected environmental, economic and social pillars and diversity is fundamental to work and to understanding society.
What are the issues that need to be resolved today and what positive changes does the near future bring? How would you like to effect change?
The main issue is to foster real change. Diversity cannot be just a statement. People have to feel that their companies care for them and value their opinions regardless of their gender, generation, nationality, etc. These will lead to more positive working environments where people can feel safe being themselves, which boosts employee engagement, productivity and innovation. This change should take place based on the personal convictions of employees and, of course, man- agers. Managers are key in guaranteeing this cultural change.
How do you define an inclusive workplace?
An inclusive workplace is a safe environment at work in which people can speak for themselves and in which differences are not seen as a drawback or as a barrier for some people’s growth, but as an opportunity for everyone to learn and to broaden their horizons.