Thematic Focus #1: Diversity Advantage

  • MILE 

FOCUS: Diversity Advantage in Europe

  •   What is Diversity Advantage? by ICEI

Diversity Advantage is the idea that diversity (intended as different backgrounds and origins of individuals) can bring competitive benefits for business and economies in general, but also for organisations and communities. This can happen when diversity is considered as a value and is promoted and included in decision-making processes and business-vision in general. Promotion of diversity is not a singular action, but it represent a vision and philosophy of governance.
However, companies and employers are often poorly informed about those benefits that diversity can bring to their workplace, nor they know how to implement it and promote it; this represents one of the strongest barriers in developing strategies and visions aiming at integrate workers with different backgrounds and origins.
As stated in the European Handbook on Equality Data – 2016, many employers are convinced that aiming to have a diverse workforce also makes business sense. Inclusive recruitment practices ensure that an employer has access to the widest possible pool of talent. Profiling as an equal opportunity employer is seen as socially desirable and in accordance with corporate social responsibility policies; and workplace monitoring can give such ambitions credibility and integrity. Employers who are, and are seen to be, proactive in promoting equal opportunities are likely to enhance their image in the eyes of their employees, clients, customers and job applicants. This can bring important business benefits such as reduced staff turnover and increased interest in joining the organisation.Nevertheless, compared to those born in Europe, migrant workers experience higher levels of unemployment rates, lower working conditions at lower salaries. As you can see from the chart below published by Eurostat in 2018. 

Legal aspects, cultural identities, working culture and tax policies, are just some of the information that stakeholders in the integration of migrants in the labour market, employers and companies in general are not aware of, discouraging them to promote diversity in their organisations. This is why we believe it is important to deliver the right tools to inform about and promote the philosophy of diversity advantages, spreading and mainstreaming best practices, methods and practical solutions, such as tailored training and capacity building activities, providing support and delivering resources and solutions. The Council of Europe is active in this sense, promoting actions and campaigns such as the Diversity Advantage Challenge, a competition to find the best real-life examples of the successful involvement of people from different cultural backgrounds in the design of innovative products, services, policies, projects and initiatives; Employers together for Integration, to give visibility to what employers are doing to support the integration of refugees and other migrants into the labour market; or the National Diversity Charters, to encourage organisations (NGOs, public bodies, private companies…) to develop and implement diversity and inclusion policies. By signing a charter, the organisation voluntarily commits to promote diversity and equal opportunities in the workplace.

  • Insight from Spain, by Action Against Hunger

Study on Global Management of Cultural Diversity
Spanish Diversity Foundation together with Norman Broadbent run out a study, in order to, support the idea that Diversity enriches and improves the company operations, empowers the employee and leads to a better society by emphasizing on plurality. Every time more, diversity management and cultural intelligence is having more relevance due to globalization, diversification and internalization. The aim of the study is to understand the Spanish cultural diversity within the organizations, by analyzing 64 organizations. The main findings across the study is that, there is a willingness, innovative ideas and initiatives to foster diversity management at the organizations so as to create and maintain a work model where the differences between employees, ideas and practices are recognized, comprehended and valued. However, the study also shows that still exists some issues on diversity management that has to be revised. Thus, the Spanish Diversity Foundation suggests few proposals to be considered when planning the strategy of diversity management, here are some of them:
– The strategy should be promoted by management department. Considering that diversity impacts the business, must be associated to the Strategic Plan of the Organization
-they recommend that the strategy plan will follow those steps: To understand, to communicate and to manage according to the MBI model of Di Stefano and Maznevski of 2003.
-It is important to have management tools and Global Plans of Diversity Training because it facilitates the incorporation of the company into the corporate culture, mission, vision and values.

DIVERSITY ADVANTAGES- Best practice from Spain
ACCEM is a Non-profit Organisation that provides attention and reception to refugees and immigrants in Spain, promoting its social and labour integration.
DIVEM is an initiative of Accem that was born with the aim of raising awareness and advising on the strategic value of cultural diversity in the company and on the ability of these companies to generate social change. This project seeks to promote diversity in the company, promoting its sustainability. DIVEM raises awareness in the business sector, promoting talent management and diversity as innovative aspects that bring added value to the organization. A fundamental aspect is that diversity is an asset to be taken into account by companies when developing their CSR strategy. From the DIVEM project, they offer personalized support and advice to companies interested in developing diversity management plans within their Social Responsibility policy. In addition, they invite companies that develop actions and practices that bet on diversity management. This project seeks to encourage actions that reinforce the idea of diversity as a positive and integrating aspect, from which different companies, organizations and entities, as well as society in general, can benefit.

  • Insight from Greece, by Hellenic Open University

Greece is one of the gateways of Europe to the East, a country that receives thousands of refugees that in turn, are gaining the status of TCN (Third Country Nationals) seeking to enter into the labour market. 173.000 officially work in Greece, almost 15.000 out of them operate in the Region of Western Greece-RWG (Hellenic Statistical Authority, 2018) mostly dealing with primary production, food industry, tourism and home care services (Fratsea L, 2017) (Center for the Integration of Migrants of the Municipality of Andravida – Killini, 2019). There are significant challenges ahead that relate to socio-economic and training issues and pressing problems that seek answers. A very high percentage of TCNs working in Greece are not declared, trapped in illegal employment, such as exploitive and/or forced labor. The main integration challenge, as shown by research experience between 1990 and 2018, is that TCNs are pushed to the underground economy and illegal work for particularly extensive periods. Migrant workers are found in precarious, low status and low wage occupations, in undeclared work and informal sectors, which demands for its constant reproduction a cheap uninsured mobile temporary and flexible workforce (Fouskas, 2018). More than 40% of TCNs live below the poverty threshold. According to a recent OECD survey, TCNs have higher unemployment rates than the native-born. Employment rates among host-country nationals declined by 7 percentage points and by 18 points among TCNs in recent years. The status of recent migrants is worse with less than 40% of them being in employment. Greece is one of the few EU countries were there was not a rise in the share of skilled employment among foreign-born workers. There seem to be also several discrimination issues. Almost one quarter of all male immigrants feels discriminated; a 31% of foreign-born women report instances of discrimination, compared to 24% of their male peers. Almost 40% of non-EU nationals in Greece consider that they belong to a group that has been subject to discrimination.
As in other EU countries, the most significant requisite for entrance in the labor market is learning of the local language. There are national and private programs that provide such training, however the percentage of recently arrived non-native speakers that attended language courses is less than 40% in Southern Europe. For a large part of the migrant population, Greece is not a final but rather an intermediate destination and this poses significant challenges to the education and training system. Migrants are not so motivated to be trained in intermediate destinations countries. Greece is often the destination of, generally, low qualification TCNs. Non-EU migrants with low levels of education (mostly labour migrants who arrived prior to the global economic crisis) are more likely to be in employment than natives. More than half of all highly educated migrant women are overqualified for their jobs, while the proportion among their male counterparts. In Greece, the over-qualification rate of native-born women has climbed 13 percentage points, while remaining relatively unchanged among their migrant peers but at a much higher level. The integration approach has been hailed as a successful antidote locally, to the divisive xenophobic discourse, which is spreading across Europe. It is urgent to start developing national narratives and building coalitions which can counter this trend and advocate of inclusive integration at higher policy levels.

Compelling research evidence demonstrates the value of an inclusive approach to diversity for human groups and communities. There is, however, no official channel to transfer the know-how from the local to the national level and rarely opportunities for constructive policy dialogue between local and national policymakers (employment sector included). In most cases, there are no platforms for structured, inter-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder national debate on migrant integration policies either. In these circumstances, it is necessary to set up ad hoc structures and opportunities where this transfer can take place, and local and national policies coordinated. Preliminary results of the MILE survey of employer needs for migrant integration into the National workforce confirms these results. Our research indicates that there are several unaddressed needs for employers hiring policies encouraging diversity in the workforce. During the latest MILE Working Group3 meeting concerning Employers needs for recruiting and employing TCNs, it was argued that indeed, in most south-European countries there are no specific policies or tools for encouraging diversity in the workplace. Northern European countries have a long history and experience in managing TCNs, but their model cannot be easily adapted to Southern European ones, which are gateways. It seems also that in southern Europe there may exist a lack of sensitivity in most organisations about migrant hiring policies and workplace diversity. The sectors where there are possibilities for migrant labour integration differ between Northern and Southern Europe. In the first case, there is a demand for skilled workers in the industry, while in the second there is a demand for unskilled workers in the agricultural/tourism sector. The latter are mostly seasonable jobs and do not offer migrants a sense of stability and reduce their commitment. 
HOU strongly supports the diversity advantage and its exploitation as a potential for growth. Besides MILE, HOU/DAISSy participates in several activities that involve the empowerment of TCNs:
•    WEMIN (HOU as a coordinator) is a project that aims at implementing and promoting a pioneering integration model for migrant and refugee women of all ages in the communities involved. More information can be found in the project’s website:
•    TACKLE is a project tackling multiple discrimination in Greece by delivering equality by active exploration and enabling policy interventions More information can be found in the project’s website:
The University has also recently started short graduate and post-graduate courses related to cultural mediation and diversity management of socially marginalized groups, contributing to develop mechanisms that will offer realistic and practical solutions.  

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