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Culture and research

ISTAT-UNAR survey - On diversity management for LGBT+ diversity in companies

23 Mar 2021

Eugenia De Rosa, Valeria de Martino

In 2019 ISTAT (the Italian National Institute of Statistics) and UNAR (the Italian Office against Racial Discrimination) carried out, as part of a broader research project, an in-depth study on diversity management (DM) measures for LGBT + diversity adopted by companies with at least 50 employees. The ad hoc module, occasionally included in the ISTAT surveys titled "Monthly survey on employment, working hours, wages and labour costs in large companies" and "Quarterly survey on vacancies and hours worked", obtained a good response rate, with over 80% of companies responding.

The in-depth data show that in 2019, over a fifth of companies (equal to over 5,700 organisations) adopted at least one measure that is not mandatory by law, with the aim of managing and valuing the differences between workers that relate to gender, age, citizenship, nationality and/or ethnicity, religious beliefs and disabilities. The main areas of application were disability (15.9%) and gender (12.7%); these measures concern one in four companies among those with at least 500 employees. Although all companies have been called upon to implement the provisions contained in Law 76/2016 (the so-called Cirinnà Law), only 7.7% (equal to over two thousand) have, since the law came into force during the year the interview was carried out (2019), concretely applied the provisions of the law (about one in three companies among those with at least 500 employees).

As for the measures, which are an addition to those already established by law, aimed at encouraging the inclusion of LGBT + workers, in 2019 only 5.1% of companies (equal to over a thousand companies) had adopted at least one. The size of the company is a significant factor: it ranges from 4.4% for companies with 50-499 employees to 14.6% for larger ones. The share of companies that have implemented DM is highest among the companies in the centre (17.9%) and in the sectors of industry in the strict sense (15.8%) and services (14.2%). DM was less widespread, on the other hand, in companies that have been established for longer. The most frequently implemented measures concern: transgender workers’ use of toilets, changing rooms, etc. in a manner consistent with their gender identity (3.3% of the total and 7.8% of the largest companies); implementation of initiatives to promote a culture of inclusion and enhancement of LGBT+ diversity (2.1% of the total and 8.6% of the largest); initiatives that guarantee transgender workers the right to express their gender identity in a visible way (2% of the total and 6.8% of the largest companies). This is followed by ad hoc measures to protect the privacy of transgender workers who began transitioning before joining the company (1.6%) and training events on issues related to LGBT+ diversity aimed at top management (1.3% ) and workers (1.2%). These measures were also more widespread in larger companies. Leave, benefits and other specific measures for LGBT+ workers that go beyond what is required by law were adopted in a less widespread manner.

DM tools for LGBT+ diversity remain little used, except for the formalisation in one or more internal documents of adherence to the principles of non-discrimination and inclusion of LGBT+ workers. This tool has been adopted by 15.4% of companies with at least 50 employees (34.1% of companies with 500 employees or more). This is followed by the presence of an organisational unit (2.9%), a professional figure (1.9%) and support for the activities of an internal group of workers (1%) who also deal with LGBT+ diversity. These reach 13.3%, 10.6% and 4.9% respectively among companies with at least 500 employees. Overall, 18.5% of companies have implemented at least one measure or tool in favour of LGBT + workers. Looking at the main reasons that led companies to adopt DM measures or tools for LGBT+ diversity, the most frequently cited reason was to prevent discriminatory acts within the company, reported by about half of all companies. The second most common reason, reported by 42.5% of companies, was to promote the well-being, satisfaction and motivation of workers. Firms with 50-499 employees indicate more often than larger firms the need to strengthen team spirit, attract the best workers regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and improve the reputation and image of the company. Only 2.9% of companies that have never adopted measures or tools for LGBT + diversity that are not mandatory by law plan to implement them in the next three years.


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